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images, and lack of opportunities which many

disabled people experience. Access is fundamental

to the construction (and contestation) of disability.

There is a sense in which every discrimination

can be seen as a problem about access: access to an

equal, unhindered social role. Social restrictions

and discrimination are a central part of the

experience of disability for people with any sort

of impairment. Regardless of whether these barriers

stem from inaccessible built environments,

proscriptive notions of intelligence, the inability

of the public to communicate using sign language,

a failure to provide resources in accessible

formats, or the discrimination experienced by

people with invisible impairments, these experiences

have a negative social dimension which can

be addressed in the creation of a more just and

equitable society.

A medical model of disability might suggest

that such problems with access are caused by

an individual pathology, but the social model

of disability which is favored by disability rights

activists and by disability studies suggests that

the unaccommodating nature of the environment

is to blame. The politicization of access

issues could therefore be seen as one of the great

benefits of distinguishing between impairment

and disability in this way. Understood through

a social model, disability is not an individual

trait, it is a social construction constantly made

and remade through beliefs, practices, institutions,

environments, and behavior. In this vein,

disability is produced by the perception of

physical, mental, and emotional variation. The

implication is that non-disabling environments

and patterns of behavior can be developed – if

disabled people have rights, support, recognition,

and self-determination.

A British group, the Union of Physically

Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS), was particularly

influential in promoting the distinction

between impairment and disability and in defining

disability as a form of oppression. UPIAS has

argued that it is society which disables physically

impaired people. Disability is something which

is imposed on top of existing impairments by the

ways in which people with impairment are unnecessarily

isolated and excluded from full social

participation. Disabled people are consequently

an oppressed social group. In order to understand

this situation, it is necessary to recognize the distinction

between physical impairment and the

social situation called the “disability” of people

disability and impairment disability and impairment

144


with such impairments. Impairment is defined as

lacking part of or all of a limb, or having a defective

limb, organ, or mechanism of the body, while

disability is the disadvantage or restriction of

activity caused by contemporary social arrangements.

Disability occurs when social institutions

take little or no account of people who have physical

impairments, thereby excluding them from

participation in the mainstream social activities.

Physical disability is a particular type of social

oppression.

Although the initial definition of disability provided

by UPIAS focused on people with physical

impairments, it was subsequently broadened to

include other impairments. The UPIAS definition

of impairment and disability has become well

known, partly due to the fact that a leading disabled

academic, Mike Oliver, has consistently

relied on them in his work, but also because other

academics have accepted these definitions.

An important element of the UPIAS approach to

disability was the promotion of self-determination.

UPIAS has rejected the idea of experts and

professionals holding forth on how people

should accept disabilities, or providing academic

lectures about the psychology of impairment. In

contrast, UPIAS argues that they are interested in

finding ways to change their own conditions

of life, thereby overcoming the disabilities which

are imposed over and above existing physical

impairments.

This approach identifies disabled people as the

experts on their own lives, and has given many

disabled people the confidence to challenge the

barriers and negative attitudes which they experience

in their daily lives. Instead of the sense of

powerlessness, dependency, and shame which

may result from the medical model of disability,

such an approach gives disabled people a sense of

confidence, empowerment, and removes feelings

of shame, stigma, and guilt from discussions of

access requirements.

The central element of this approach to disability

is its emphasis on the need to remove the

barriers that prevent people with impairments

from taking their rightful roles in society. The

essential message is that, although disabled people

may have significant bodily, cognitive, or psychological

differences which distinguish them

from non-disabled people, those differences do

not justify inequality and should not result in

the denial of citizenship rights. Society creates

many of the problems that disabled people experience

and society has a responsibility to address

them. Thus it is suggested that it is impossible to

identify the number of disabled people in a

society. From the perspective of the social model

of disability, people are only disabled by an environment

which does not meet their needs. There

is no fixed number of disabled people, because

people with impairments may not be disabled

in every context.

MARK SHERRY AND GARY L . ALBRECHT

discourse

– see discourse analysis.

discourse analysis

An omnibus term to describe a wide range of

socio-cultural analytic perspectives developed in

the aftermath of the linguistic turn in the social

sciences during the 1960s, at the broadest level,

the domain of discourse analysis encompasses the

study of language use beyond the level of the

sentence or utterance, in relation to social or societal

context. In this broad conception, discourse

analysis embraces both speech and interaction

and written texts as objects of study.

Much of Anglophone discourse analysis stems

from the widespread influence of the “ordinary

language philosophy” practiced by John L. Austin

(1911–60) and John Searle (1932– ). This perspective

was elaborated in opposition to the notion

that the primary function of language is representational.

Austin in How to Do Things with Words

(1962) at first argued that language use involves

both “constative utterances” (that represent states

of affairs) and “performatives” (for example, “I

now pronounce you man and wife”) which function

to perform social actions and which only do

so if certain normative conventions are satisfied.

Subsequently Austin concluded that speech mingles

the performance of actions with the predication

of states of affairs, and this theme was given

more formal expression in Searle’s development

of “speech act analysis” in Speech Acts (1979).

At the same time Anglophone discourse analysis

has embraced the notion that language use embodies

indexical properties which ensure that the

meaning-making process will inevitably involve

the use of the relationship between utterance

and context to elaborate the meanings of social

actions. These basic ideas have been developed in

several distinctive intellectual and disciplinary

contexts. In linguistics, H. Paul Grice (1913–88)

created the theory of “conversational implicature”

(implicit meaning derived from construing what

is said explicitly in relation to social context).

Based on the notion that cooperative conversation

is organized in terms of a number of basic

disability and impairment discourse analysis

145


principles that license inferences about the communication

of meaning, this theory has been

highly important in the development of linguistic

pragmatics which incorporates the analysis of

speech acts, presupposition, “deixis,” and related

topics. In anthropology, Dell Hymes (1927– ) built

on the theory of speech acts to develop a broader

model of the ethnography of speaking, based on

sixteen dimensions of a speech event. This marks a

departure from the traditional anthropological

emphasis on documenting and preserving threatened

indigenous languages, and towards a focus

on the relationship between language, culture,

and the use of speech acts within given communities

and activities. Moreover, it does so with the

provision of an anthropologically informed sense

of the variety of language games that may be

sustained within a given culture. In sociology,

Erving Goffman’s conception of social interaction

as driven by normatively mediated face wants was

a proximate source both for the development of

conversational analysis, and for the development

of a theory of positive and negative face in Penelope

Brown and Stephen Levinson’s highly influential

cross-linguistic analysis of face-threatening

behavior and politeness.

In all the forms of discourse analysis described

so far, the fundamental research effort is to isolate

the endogenous norms, practices, and reasoning

which inform the participants’ construction

and interpretation of social interaction. Other

forms of discourse analysis, in particular critical

discourse analysis, approach the analysis of text

and interaction by examining them in relation to

power and ideology and to the perpetuation of

race-based, gender-based, and other forms of disadvantage

and social exclusion. While this

method has been applied to social interaction,

some of its most successful manifestations have

emerged in the analysis of written texts such as

newspaper articles, political directives, and so on.

This work has links to the broader poststructuralist

discourse analysis associated with Michel

Foucault, Fredric Jameson (1934– ), Stuart Hall,

and others. Moreover, in its focus on text and

other forms of cultural production (including

art, film, and television), this form of discourse

analysis has clear affinities with broader trends

in cultural and semiotic analysis.

The emergence of discourse analysis has coincided

with a new emphasis on narrative as a vehicle

for the communication of basic human

understandings, as a basic form in which human

knowledge is stored and represented, and as a

means of socialization, memory, empathy, and

catharsis. Vladimir Propp’s analysis of Russian

fairy tales in his Morphology of the Folk Tale (1969)

was among the first efforts to subject narrative to

systematic description and it has been followed by

many others which analyze narrative as a sociolinguistic,

conversational, cultural, and artistic

process. In this way narrative analysis has become

a major site at which many forms of discourse

analysis converge, ranging from the microanalytic

study of story-telling as situated action,

to macrocultural analyses of the narratives of political

decisionmaking and warfare, and the historical

narratives of imagined communities.

JOHN HERITAGE

discrimination

This is a social practice that organizes prejudicial

attitudes into the formal or informal segregation

of social groups or classes stigmatized by the collective

prejudice. The earliest use of the word in

the English language was in the sense of “to discriminate”

as to cultural taste, for example in

Pierre Bourdieu’s Distinction (1979 [trans. 1984]).

Discrimination can therefore be defined, sociologically,

as a practice whereby the cultural tastes of a

dominant group or social class are projected negatively

on groups or classes they consider inferior.

Discrimination presents as a cultural attitude but

is organized and sustained as a structural effect

with legal, social, and economic consequences.

The term is commonly associated with racial

discrimination, but discrimination has also come

to be used as a general term to denote any discriminatory

practice of sufficient structural durability

to exclude classes of people from economic

opportunities, political rights, or social freedoms;

for example, the 1964 US Civil Rights Act, while

directed primarily at racial discrimination, was

broadly conceived to end discrimination with

respect to race, color, religion, sex (gender), or

national origin. Discriminatory beliefs and actions

are rooted in everyday-life attitudes and social

practices, usually ones backed by a long tradition.

They are, therefore, so embedded in the local or

regional culture that they are difficult to define

legally and sociologically: for example, the distinction

between racial and ethnic discrimination, the

reluctance to take gender discrimination seriously,

and the outright hostility to legislation

aimed at eliminating discrimination on the basis

of sexualities. CHARLES LEMERT

disorganized capitalism

– see capitalism.

discourse analysis disorganized capitalism

146

distribution



This refers to the nature of any variable that is

collected as part of a quantitative research

method. For instance, it could be measures of the

income of individuals, the levels of crimes of cities

or the health differences between nations. But a

statistician’s approach to examining a distribution

of a variable is the same regardless of

whether we are measuring health or wealth, or

whether our units (or cases) are individuals or

countries. When we examine any distribution,

there are four key aspects that should be examined.

If any of them are missed, the sociologist

risks missing some important features of the data.

These features are the central tendency, the

spread, the shape, and outliers.

The expression “central tendency” is a summary

of the average value in the data. Most commonly

this is calculated with the mean, although in

many cases the median gives a better typical

value. The mean is calculated by summing all of

the cases, and dividing by the number of cases.

The median is obtained by rank-ordering the

cases, and taking the value of the middle case.

For categorical variables, the mode (the most commonly

occurring category) is the most common

measure of central tendency.

Although less obvious, sociologists are often

more interested in how spread out, or heterogeneous,

the cases are. For instance, amongst the

richest few dozen countries in the world, the nature

of the societies and the quality of life of the

citizens seems to vary surprisingly little with the

mean level of income. But the spread of incomes –

that is the size of the gap between the richest and

poorest, seems to have a greater effect on outcomes

such as health and average life expectancy.

Often sociologists and statisticians pay too much

attention to averages, and neglect the spread of

data. There are a number of measures of spread,

the common ones being the standard deviation

and the midspread (aka the interquartile range).

Many statistical tests assume that, when the

data are plotted in a histogram, they will form a

bell-shaped curve, also called the normal or the

Gaussian distribution. In practice, few sociological

variables actually form such a neat distribution –

so to call it a normal curve is somewhat of a

misnomer. For instance, the distribution of hourly

income in most countries is very skewed, with a

long upwards straggle towards the small number

of employees with very high incomes, while most

people’s wages are slightly below the mean. And if

one plots weekly hours of work, one obtains a

“bimodal” graph, with one peak around full-time

(36-40 hours) and the other peak around half-time

(20 hours). In such cases the shape of the distribution

tells one far more than the average value.

In many sociological measures, a small number

of cases on “outliers” seem to be very different

from all the others. For instance, if one counted

the number of sexual partners that individuals

had over the past twelve months, many people

would score 0 or 1, but a small proportion would

have had dozens or hundreds of sexual partners in

that time – for instance, prostitutes. Pooling all of

the cases to calculate an average would be misleading.

For some analyses, it would be appropriate

to exclude those extreme cases, called outliers.

In other cases, the research might learn more

from those cases that deviate from the norm, the

exceptions that prove the rule. But beware, those

extreme cases often arise because of some error in

the research!

To summarize, it is good practice in sociological

research to investigate all four of these aspects of

any distribution. BRENDAN J . BURCHELL

division of labor

– see labor.

divorce

– see marriage and divorce.



domestic labor

– see labor.

domestic violence

– see family.

double consciousness

A theory of black consciousness in the United

States that is associated with the sociology of

W. E. B. Du Bois, who was influenced in his analysis

of white–black relationships in America by

G. W. E. Hegel’s description of the master–slave

relationship. For Hegel, the master and the slave

cannot enter into a relationship of mutual recognition

and respect because they are separated by a

relationship of absolute power. Du Bois argued in

The Souls of Black Folk (1961: 16) that the black man

always has consciousness of himself through the

consciousness of the white man, and thus “[i]t is a

peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this

sense of always looking at one’s self through the

eyes of the others, of measuring one’s soul by the

tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt

and pity.” The black man’s consciousness had

distribution double consciousness

147


been destroyed by the experience of slavery, and

Du Bois proposed an educational reform that

would begin to restore self-respect and hence

self-consciousness. BRYAN S. TURNER

double shift

– see family.

Douglas, Mary (1921– )

A former student at Oxford and biographer of E. E.

Evans-Pritchard (1902–73), Douglas is the most

widely influential British anthropologist of the

second half of the twentieth century. She conducted

her original fieldwork among the Lele of

present-day Zaire, but from the 1960s onward her

expertise in the ethnography of Africa has been

put to broader comparative purposes. Two thematics

dominate her mature work. The first is

the social-organizational determination of perception,

classification, and cosmology. The second is

the dynamic tension between social order and selfinterest.

Both thematics come to her from E´mile

Durkheim through Evans-Pritchard’s mediation.

Analytically, she remains virtually the only Durkheimian

purist writing in anthropology today.

Critically, she tends to favor hierarchy more vigorously

and to take greedy individualist self-interest

to task more readily than even Durkheim was ever

inclined to do. She is comparable in this respect to

her British-trained contemporary, Louis Dumont.

Her own biographer, Richard Fardon (Mary Douglas:

An Intellectual Biography, 1999), attributes such

“sociological conservatism” less, however, to her

postsecondary training than to her continuing

devotion to the Catholicism into which she was

born.


Purity and Danger (1966) and Natural Symbols:

Explorations in Cosmology are the double centerpiece

of her theoretical program. In the earlier

work, she argues that any given society’s collective

preoccupations with purity and pollution are

the more salient the more its moral system is

ambiguous or paradoxical. In the later work,

noticeably but not fundamentally revised from

its first (1970) to its second (1973) edition, she

postulates that the intersection of the variable

intensities of the two general dimensions of social

control that she names “grid” and “group” operate

on the ever-ready semiotic vehicle of the human

body to generate distinctive pairings of the expression

of the self and the imagination of the cosmos.

In tandem, these works join Pierre Bourdieu’s Outline

of a Theory of Practice (1970 [trans. 1977]) as

contemporary foundations of the anthropology

of the body and as productive challenges to the

sociological insensitivity of many of the applications

of phenomenological hermeneutics in cultural

and in religious studies. They are also the

point of departure for her own further research

into such diverse topics as dietary prescriptions

and proscriptions; the patterns and the teleologies

of consumption (in The World of Goods, with Baron

Isherwood, 1978) and the correlative definition of

lifestyles; and the study of dietetics and dietary

theology that are the focus of her last work to

date, Leviticus as Literature (1999). Douglas has largely

lived in and worked on the society of the

United States since moving there in 1977. She

subsequently collaborated with Aaron Wildavsky

in writing Risk and Culture (1982), a somewhat

unflattering portrait of the ecological anxieties

and opportunistic activism of the American middle

classes that, unsurprisingly, was not well

received in the United States itself. After the

1970s and in the midst of several forays into the

epistemology of the social sciences and the sociology

of epistemology, her most systematic refinement

of her theoretical commitments remains

How Institutions Think (1986). JAMES D. FAUBION

dramaturgical analysis

– see Erving Goffman.

drug abuse

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