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Reading: The ‘Social Model of Disability’ Met a Narrative of (In)Credulity: A Review


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The ‘Social Model of Disability’ Met a Narrative of (In)Credulity: A Review


M Miles

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The article reviews components and recent discussion of the ‘Social Model of Disability’, with special focus on two books, Disability Rights and Wrongs by Tom Shakespeare, and The Social Model: Europe and the Majority World edited by Colin Barnes and Geof Mercer. The ‘Social Model’ calls for close and sceptical scrutiny, as it has become one of the most influential metanarratives in campaigns and publications of the ‘Disability Movement’, while tending to overlook the complexities experienced by many disabled people and their relatives. Some components of a Social Model appear in historical literature of Asia and the Middle East, lending credibility to its ongoing life as an interesting idea. Yet current anglophone advocacy of the model makes assumptions of universality that are questionable in the socio-economic situations experienced by much of the global population having disabilities. A calmer and better informed discussion of the model’s merits and flaws would contribute to greater understanding of global disability.



How to Cite: Miles, M., 2011. The ‘Social Model of Disability’ Met a Narrative of (In)Credulity: A Review. Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development, 22(1), pp.5–15. DOI:
Published on 02 May 2011.


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