*** Originally Published on Engaged Sociology by IUP Department of Sociology***
At some point in everyone’s life, they will either have known someone with a disability or have had a disability themselves. Disability can manifest from genetics, a spur of the moment injury or ailment, or as a result of the aging process. When we study disability what we see is a lot of intersectionality across race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, class, etc. and this is because disability doesn’t care about who you are or where you come from it is a natural part of life, and it can affect anybody, at any time. The onset of disability reminds people that they are not invisible or eternal, but they are in fact human. How does this reality impact our attitudes and perceptions of individuals with disabilities? What are challenges that individuals with disabilities face in regards to identity? How do individuals with disabilities embody their identity? These are all questions that can be answered through research in a subfield of sociology known as Social Psychology. Social Psychology is a subfield of Sociology that explores how feelings, thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, intentions and goals are constructed and how these concepts contribute to our interactions with other people and environments. Social Psychology merges the disciplines of sociology and psychology together allowing the disciplines to share and create methodologies, and theoretical constructs. Social Psychologist study topics such as social structure and personality, expectations states theory, self-concept, self-esteem, symbolic interactionism, dramaturgical analysis, socialization, emotion, embodiment, and identity. By utilizing the concepts brought by the field of social psychology, disability scholars can better understand how individuals construct and embody their identity.
In this blog post, I will begin by conceptualizing the term disability. I will conceptualize the term disability by discussing combating definitions of disability. Then, I will introduce the social psychology of disability covering topics such as attitudes and perceptions, effects of stigma, and disability identity. Finally, I will end the blog post by summarizing the key points that were made throughout.