Ray McDermott is a professor of education and anthropology at Stanford University.
Culture as Disability
Article first published online: 28 OCT 2009
1995 American Anthropological Association
Anthropology & Education Quarterly
Volume 26, Issue 3, pages 324–348, September 1995
How to Cite
McDermott, R. and Varenne, H. (1995), Culture as Disability. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 26: 324–348. doi: 10.1525/aeq.1995.26.3.05x0936z
- Issue published online: 28 OCT 2009
- Article first published online: 28 OCT 2009
Common sense allows that persons unable to handle a difficult problem can be labeled “disabled.” Social analysis shows that being labeled often invites a public response that multiplies the difficulties facing the seemingly unable. Cultural analysis shows that disability refers most precisely to inadequate performances only on tasks that are arbitrarily circumscribed from daily life. Disabilities are less the property of persons than they are moments in a cultural focus. Everyone in any culture is subject to being labeled and disabled.