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The Effects of Professional Discourse on Disability 1931–2009: Environments of Inclusive and Restricted Participation

Environmental Contexts and Disability

ISBN: 978-1-78441-263-0, eISBN: 978-1-78441-262-3

ISSN: 1479-3547

Publication date: 4 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

This report provides information on the cultural environment of professionals concerned with disability, and the implications of that environment for the inclusion and participation of disabled persons in society. We place that environment within an historical context sensitive to the role of power and the constructed nature of the social world to illustrate the importance of cultural environments for understanding factors shaping inclusion of disabled persons.

Design/methodology/approach

We use data from coding terms used in the Review of Educational Research for nearly 80 years to examine the cultural environment of professionals concerned with disabilities and suggest such an environment may characterize many professions and the social sciences generally. We examine 23 terms used in academic discourse to refer to disabled populations, tracking change in use of the terms over 80 years.

Findings

There has been increased attention to disability from the 1930s to the early 2000s. The increase has been accompanied by a decline in use of terms undermining the dignity and capability of disabled persons, and an increase in terms providing a context for dignity and capability. Such changes suggest a cultural environment propitious for inclusion and participation of disabled and disadvantaged persons.

Social implications

Implications are considered through a model noting the role of a positive cultural environment in shaping inclusion and participation of disabled populations. The model suggests the power and limitations of cultural environments, while at the same time noting the role of countervailing processes hindering greater inclusion and participation.

Keywords

Citation

Beals, R. and Fiala, R. (2014), "The Effects of Professional Discourse on Disability 1931–2009: Environments of Inclusive and Restricted Participation", Environmental Contexts and Disability (Research in Social Science and Disability, Vol. 8), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 141-162. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-354720140000008008

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited