Female Forms: Experiencing and Understanding Disability

Female Forms: Experiencing and Understanding Disability

Female Forms: Experiencing and Understanding Disability

Female Forms: Experiencing and Understanding Disability


• What is the relevance of feminist ideas for understanding women's experiences of disability?

• How can the social model of disability be developed theoretically?

• What are the key differences between Disability Studies and medical sociology?

In answer to these questions, this book explores and develops ideas about disability, engaging with important debates in disability studies about what disability is and how to theorize it. It also examines the interface between disability studies, women's studies and medical sociology, and offers an accessible review of contemporary debates and theoretical approaches. The title Female Forms reflects two things about the book: first, its use of disabled women's experiences, as told by themselves, to bring a number of themes to life, and second, the author's belief in the importance of feminist ideas and debates for disability studies. The social model of disability is the book's bedrock, but the author both challenges and contributes to social modelist thought. She advances a materialist feminist perspective on disability, producing a book which is of multi-disciplinary relevance.

Female Forms will be useful to the growing number of students on Disability Studies courses, as well as those interested in women's studies, medical sociology and social policy. It will also appeal to those studying or working in the health and social care professions such as nursing, social work, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.


The Disability, Human Rights and Society Series reflects a commitment to a social model of disability and a desire to make this view accessible to a wide audience. 'Disability' is viewed as a form of oppression and the fundamental issue is not one of an individual's inabilities or limitations, but rather a hostile and unadaptive society.

Priority is given to identifying and challenging those barriers to change, including the urgent task of establishing links with other marginalized groups and thus seeking to make connections between class, gender, race, age and disability factors.

The series aims to further establish disability as a serious topic of study, one in which the latest research findings and ideas can be seriously engaged with.

Disability Studies within higher education in Britain in particular, has been characterized by a commitment to a social model of disability. This approach has been significantly influenced by historical materialist and feminist ideas and concerns. In this book Thomas reinforces a recognition of such contributions and by critically engaging with existing ideas, offers a series of perspectives that are intended to move forward ways of defining, understanding and explaining disability and impairment.

A key theoretical question reflecting the author's personal perspective and which the reader needs to be aware of is, 'how are the social relationships which constitute disability generated and sustained within social and cultural formations?' (p. 2). This interest provides Thomas with the motivation to consider several key themes including: the gendered nature of disability; the nature of social oppression, taking the experiential seriously; difference and identity. A particular interest is that of encouraging a constructive dialogue between disability studies and medical sociology.

One of the great strengths of the book is the ways in which Thomas has carefully used the powerful narratives of a group of disabled women. Much of this material is highly informative, and powerfully illustrates their perspectives and . . .

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