Understanding the Social Model of Disability

Past, Present and Future

Authored by: Colin Barnes

Routledge Handbook of Disability Studies

Print publication date:  February  2012
Online publication date:  March  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415574006
eBook ISBN: 9780203144114
Adobe ISBN: 9781136502170


 Download Chapter



As someone with a congenital visual impairment with working class disabled parents, I grew up with impairment and disability. I found the social model of disability in the 1980s in a book by Mike Oliver (1983), Social Work with Disabled People, when I entered university to study disability. It summarized what I already knew about disability: that people with any form of accredited impairment are disabled by an unjust and uncaring society. It has influenced my work ever since. Subsequently, thinking inspired by the social model has had a major impact on policy circles and universities across the world. Yet in many respects there remains a general misunderstanding about what the social model actually is and what it is for.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.