Modernity, Hegemony and Disability: A Critical Theoretical Exploration of the Historical Determinants of Disability
Mapp, Anthony Michael
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Adopting a historical analysis methodology, this critical theory dissertation demonstrates how social, economic, political, cultural and intellectual developments associated with the historical period known as modernity gave rise to many of the disabling forms of oppression that continue to exist in contemporary society. The dissertation asserts that an understanding of the ongoing impacts of the past is necessary if progress is to be made in the present and future tasks of creating a more egalitarian and inclusive society. Because modernity has been understood in many different ways using very distinct criteria, this research project begins by clarifying the works use of the term. Drawing upon extensive Critical Disability Studies literature as well as Gramscian, postmodern, psychoanalytic, Marxist and feminist frameworks of analysis, this dissertation then explores the hegemonic role of the white, able-bodied heterosexual male in perpetuating oppressive aspects of modernity such as hierarchy, inequality, dehumanization and the psychology of domination. Embracing a broad definition of disability, the dissertation exposes modernitys disabling impacts on women, Jewish people and members of the black, gay and disabled communities. In addition to exploring the past roots of contemporary forms of disability, this research project examines contradictory elements within modernity that have the potential to promote positive social change. The final section of this dissertation suggests that the concept of community has the potential to add to disability discourse by generating counter-hegemonic perspectives and social policies that support equality, inclusion and social justice for all those social groups that have been subjected to the disabling impacts of hegemonic power in the modern era.