Ableism, Disability, and Society – Coursework Example

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The paper "Ableism, Disability, and Society" is an engrossing example of coursework on sociology. Disabled people have impairments, which cause them to experience disability. Some experiences of disability are caused by the impairment itself. Social barriers imposed by the community cause other experiences of disability. The social model of disability has been used to explain how social barriers cause disability. However, social barriers are driven by negative attitudes and prejudices and affect the experiences of people with disabilities. The social model has helped empower disabled people to take control of supportive services and political participation.

However, an affirmative approach would be more effective in tackling social, medical and psychological barriers towards impairments such as epilepsy and painful conditions. This paper proposes that society should make proactive changes to policy and social structures to accommodate the needs of disabled people. Keywords: disability, impairment, social barrier, social model, the model of disability, affirmative Introduction Disability can be defined as the loss of opportunities to participate in society at par with others because of physical and social barriers (Thomas, 2004a). It is different from an impairment, which is the loss of psychological or physiological function arising from an illness or injury.

Disabled people have impairments, which cause them to experience disability. Some scholars claim that disability is caused by physical and psychological impairments (Thomas, 2004b). On the other hand, studies show that social barriers, which hinder disabled persons from accessing equal opportunities in society cause disability (Shakespeare, 2006a). The differences affect how society relates to people with impairments. This paper will apply the social model of disability to explain how social barriers cause disability and propose ways of empowering people with impairments against social barriers. Historical discrimination can be traced to the 1930s when the Nazi government adopted a mass euthanasia policy targeting disabled people.

According to Barnes (2012), the government referred to disabled people as useless eaters who did not contribute to Germany’ s development. Over time, attitudes in political circles in the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK) and Europe have softened. This attitude change has resulted in the expansion of governmental and organisational policies to accommodate the needs of people with impairments. Young (2010) posits that the negative attitudes towards impairment are rooted in western culture.

Although a majority of disabled people have been integrated into the community, they still experience prejudice and oppression from society. People with disabilities still experience social and economic barriers in the community. The social and economic barriers affecting people with impairments are attributed to industrialisation, medicalisation, social Darwinism, shifting work patterns and urbanisation (Barnes, 2012).


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Shakespeare, T. (2006a). Disability rights and wrongs. London: Routledge.

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Thomas, C. (2004b). How is disability understood? An examination of sociological approaches. Disability & Society, 19(6), 569-583.

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