Volume 2, 2022
Understanding “Disability” as a Cluster of Disability Models
This article puts forth a novel framework for understanding conceptions of disability using six models of disability: the “Social,” “Medical,” “Tragedy,” “Affirmative,” “Minority” and “Universal” models. It analyzes these models as three opposed pairs, each pertaining to a distinct aspect of the multifaceted experience of disability: (1) the cause of disabled people’s social disadvantage and exclusion; (2) the effect of impairment on individuals’ quality of life and well-being; (3) the dichotomy or lack thereof between disabled and nondisabled people. The article argues that although each model is incompatible with its opposed pair, it is compatible with the remaining four models, in the sense that there is no contradiction in holding the views associated with these models at the same time. It therefore concludes that conceptions of disability are best understood as clusters of views on disability that are associated with compatible models.