For the purpose of this assignment I am going to discuss the social construct of disability by focusing on eugenics and language. In addition to the medical and social model of disability, segregation and the oppression of disability. Furthermore the Medias influence on social constructs.
Within the United Kingdom there are an estimated 9 million disabled adults. (Office for Disability Issues updated Department for Work and Pensions estimates based on Family Resources survey 2009/10). Despite the high number, people with impairments are treated as a separate homogenous group to the rest of society. Firstly, to understand where we are today with disability as a social construction I will ...view middle of the document...
68). The 18th and 19th century was an era where scientific reason and rationale thinking about the social world led to new notions and the beginnings medicalization of disability.
The eugenics movement arose in the 20th century as two wings of a common philosophy of human worth. Francis Galton, who devised the term eugenics in 1883, after studying Charles Darwin’s book ‘The Origins of Life’, where Darwin suggested the theme of evolution and that within species the fittest would survive and adapt whilst the weaker inferior would die out. Galton adapted this concept to the human race, after studying the upper classes in the British society he came to the conclusion that the reasons for their social positions where the reasons for their genetic make up. Galton defined eugenics as ‘the science of improvement of the human germ plasm through better breeding’ (Swain & French 2008).During the early years of eugenics he came to the assumption that with selective breeding the human race would devise its own evolution. The scientific knowledge combined with theological thought led to the assumption that individuals with impairments were a threat to society.
The American Eugenics Society (AES) was formed in 1921 by Madison Grant, Harry Laughlin, Irving Fisher, Harry Osborn and Henry Crampton, after the Second International Conference on Eugenics. The Eugenics Committee of the United States was established that ultimately led to the incorporation of the American Eugenic Society in 1926.
The society based their principles on the works of Francis Galton, and served to promote eugenic health, genetic education and racial betterment.
The Standardised IQ testing was initially introduced in 1912, created by Henry Goddard, which was later utilised by the American Eugenics Society in an attempt to validate and identify who the ‘imbeciles’ or ‘inferior’ individuals were then incarcerated. Asylums and Long Stay Hospitals were for the professional care of people thought to have mental health issues and physical disabilities. If placed in either an Asylum or Long Stay Hospital the individuals were then forcibly sterilized to prevent them from reproducing and passing on ‘inferior’ genes to further generations.
The AES main objective was to rid America of interiors, to make a stronger society. To ensure this they brought in immigration laws to prevent anyone who was inferior soiling the population with the defective genes.
Karl Marx (1881-83) was the first person to establish the link between intellectual agenda and place in society known as 'Social Constructionism'. He famously stated that, "it is not the consciousness of men that determines their social being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness."
Social constructionism approach outlines that contextual, linguistic and relational social factors create identities as our "own theories of ourselves" (Phoenix, 2007, p. 47). Personal and social identity are inseparable and...