Disability Studies: what’s the point?

  • Collin Barnes University of Leeds


The profoundly disabling tendencies of modern society were downplayed and or over looked completely. The policy outcomes of these approaches allowed politicians, professionals and practitioners; either, to adopt an exclusively traditional individual approach to the problem of ‘disability’ or, to espouse a more liberal inter-relational agenda similar to what Miller and Gwynne termed an ‘enlightened guardianship’ perspective way back in 1972. Thus, allowing them to vacillate between individual and collective solutions to the ‘disability’ issue. In fact, ‘disability’ can be identified as a complex and pernicious form of social oppression or institutional discrimination that pervades every aspect of modern living. It is important to remember here what the social model actually is. A model is what social scientists call a ‘heuristic device’ or an aid to understanding.