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Disability as Microcosm: the Boundaries of the Human Body


  • Elizabeth DePoy

    () (Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies, University of Maine, 5717 Corbett Hall, Orono, ME 04469, USA)

  • Stephen Gilson

    (Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies, University of Maine, 5717 Corbett Hall, Orono, ME 04469, USA)


In this paper, we query the legitimacy of the atypical body for membership, quasi-membership, or exclusion from the category of human. Geneticized, branded, and designed as not normal, undesirable, and in need of change, embodied disablement can provide an important but circumvented analysis of the explicit and implicit nature of the legitimate human body, its symbolism, and responses that such bodies elicit from diverse local through global social and cultural entities. Building on and synthesizing historical and current work in the sociology of the body, in disability studies, in cyborg and post-human studies, this paper begins to ask questions about the criteria for human embodiment that are violated by interpretations of disability and then met with a range of responses from body revision to denial of the viability of life. Given the nascent emergence of this important topic, this paper chronicles the theory, questions and experiences that have provoked questions and posited the need for more substantive theory development and verification.

Suggested Citation

  • Elizabeth DePoy & Stephen Gilson, 2012. "Disability as Microcosm: the Boundaries of the Human Body," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(4), pages 1-15, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsoctx:v:2:y:2012:i:4:p:302-316:d:21573

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Harvey, David, 2007. "A Brief History of Neoliberalism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199283279, June.
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    More about this item


    humanness; embodiment; disability;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • P - Economic Systems
    • P0 - Economic Systems - - General
    • P1 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems
    • P2 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies
    • P3 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions
    • P4 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics


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