DSQ, the Disability Studies Quarterly
is an academic journal where academics, scholars, and independent thinkers have been poking at the meaning of disability, impairment, handicap, and other problematic labels for two decades. Both DSQ and its newer cousin, the Review of Disability Studies
, are available free online. One reads DSQ in one's browser; RDS is downoadable as PDF or DOC files (an odd choice).
Since I now have two handheld reading devices, I'm always slurping up digital content. Which is where I encountered this, in Michael Davidson's review of Tobin Sieber's Disability Theory
If a constituency is perceived to define rights claims for "special accommodation" around individual medical conditions, then that group could be said to be self-serving and narcissistic — hardly the best climate in which to mount a social movement.
Ah! This is why the Clint Eastwood-pattern "why are they asking for special rights?" objection stirs such a visceral reaction! I'm being called out as selfish, greedy and
The reviewer further discusses how this book challenges the simple binary between the "medical model" and the "social model" of disability:
As I read (and teach) new scholarship on disability studies I see the same rhetorical sleights of hand being used to deconstruct ableist ideology without much critical reflection on the assumptions that underlie this endeavor. Siebers' book is a caution about how easily academic discourse produces the illness it seeks to cure. "We" all agree that the medicalization of the body has been harmful to persons with disabilities. "We" all agree that this model locates the "problem" in the impairment and not in the social and cultural barriers to full participation in social polity. "We" all agree that ideological state apparatuses reinscribe power on the body and render them docile. But as Siebers points out, the social model, by focusing on the social meanings of disability tends to dismiss the body as a kind of empty code of signifiers. That is small comfort for a person experiencing chronic pain or receiving dirty looks when boarding a bus or being denied access to a job, courtroom, or medical insurance.
Can't wait for Seiber's book to arrive!