Excluding disabled people is a political actso is choosing disability
The Difference That Disability Makes
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Rod Michalko launches into this book asking why disabled people are still feared, still regarded as useless or unfit to live, not yet welcome in society? Michalko challenges us to come to grips with the social meanings attached to disability and the body that is not "normal."
Michalko's analysis draws from his own understanding of blindness and narratives by other disabled people. Connecting lived experience with social theory, he shows the consistent exclusion of disabled people from the common understandings of humanity and what constitutes the good life. He offers new insight into what suffering a disability means to individuals as well as to the polity as a whole. He shows how disability can teach society about itself, about its determination of what is normal and who belongs. Guiding us to a new understanding of how disability, difference, and suffering are related, this book enables us to choose disability as a social identity and a collective political issue. The difference that disability makes can be valuable and worthwhile, but only if we choose to make it so.
"This is a savvy and provocative analysis of the cultural structures undergirding the reception of disability in contemporary North America (particularly of blindness). Michalko creates a compelling analysis of disability as a cultural construct and as a meaningful phenomenological category of identity and experience. There is a wonderful weave of theoretical and personal insight that makes The Difference That Disability Makes a joy to read and an important contribution to the academic field of disability studies. Such a combination is rarely found."
"Michalko advances contemporary scholarship not just by his reflections on the underlying grammar of our everyday talk on 'suffering' and on 'persons with disability' but by the self-exemplifying nature of his own text. The Difference That Disability Makes will make as important a contribution to theoretical developments on the 'self' as it will to our understanding of disability."
"...thought-provoking; it makes a refreshing contribution to disability studies and will be of great interest to scholars and students in the field."
"[Michalko's] book is not only an important contribution to the emerging discussion on disability identity formation, but it is also a cautionary note about depoliticizing disability within such entities as university service units for disabled students. Michalko concludes with a passionate call to 'come out' as disabled and stop being caught up in the seductive power of the 'normal'."
"[A]n important contribution to the fields of disability studies, psychology, and sociology...This book is a must read for academics interested in the field of disability studies."
"As is evident from the issues they raise, both [The Difference That Disability Makes and Why I Burned My Book] take a more provocative stance regarding disabilityone that is vastly different from how disability has been traditionally discussed in educational contexts.... Together both books can provide a beginning toolbox to challenge educators and researchers to take another look at our practices and assumptions about disability."
"...well worth exploring...to see how a thoughtful surveyor of this terrain moves along his journey."
"The Difference that Disability Makes is a masterful, mainly ethnomethodological, analysis of Rod Michalko's protracted journey from his 'homeland' of 'normal' society into the 'twilight' world of the 'visually impaired', the 'blind' and 'disabled', as he comes to terms with a progressive eye condition that results in blindness. ... a welcome addition to disability studies courses across Canada and the USA."