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Is there a coherent social conception of disability?
  1. John Harris
  1. University of Manchester, Manchester


    Is there such a thing as a social conception of disability? Recently two writers in this journal have suggested not only that there is a coherent social conception of disability but that all non-social conceptions, or “medical models” of disability are fatally flawed. One serious and worrying dimension of their claims is that once the social dimensions of disability have been resolved no seriously “disabling” features remain. This paper examines and rejects conceptions of disability based on social factors but notes that physical and mental conditions which disadvantage the individual have social dimensions.

    • Disability
    • handicap
    • impairment
    • social deprivation
    • social exclusion
    • discrimination

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    • John Harris is Sir David Alliance Professor of Bioethics and Research Director of The Centre For Social Ethics & Policy, University of Manchester and a Director of The Institute of Medicine, Law and Bioethics.