Evolution of Disability Termiology a Class-based Struggle?
August 8, 2009 1:38 PM Subscribe
A few years ago I formulated a sociological theory about the evolution of terms used to refer to those afflicted by certain classes of disabilities, whether physical or mental, in which more functional members of the class resent being "bundled" with less functional members and are hence in a constant, mostly subconscious, quest for differentiation. This leads to development of ever more benign terms ("handicapable!") which themselves quickly become associated with the whole, therefore perpetuating the cycle. The theory seemed obvious to me when I thought of it, but I've yet to see it espoused or debunked elsewhere. Have you? Or, failing that, do you see any obvious arguments for or against it?
posted by The Confessor to Society & Culture (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Two examples, in case I wasn't clear enough with my explanation:
A paraplegic, for instance, might once have said of a quadriplegic: "I'm not a cripple, he's a cripple! I'm just a bit... disabled.", and a relatively high-functioning mental patient might once have said of a near-vegetable: "I'm not an idiot, he's an idiot! I'm just slightly retarded."