chapter  3
The nature of disability
Pages 23

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a historical materialist framework for analysing disability. In concluding the previous chapter I argued that such a framework should be drawn from a broader historical-geographical account of embodiment. Furthermore, this more general account should explain how bodies, as natural bases of human existence, are given social significance within particular societies. Of course, any ‘society’ has specific historical-geographical boundaries, and the socialisation of embodiment therefore can take vastly different forms in different times and places. This is in accord with the materialist model that was reviewed in the previous chapter where disability is seen as part of a broader process of social embodiment – the ascription of roles and representations to body types that varies in time and space. Moreover, the socialisation of human embodiment is seen as part of a larger process through which societies transform their ‘natural bases’ – literally, their material elements – into real physical and cultural environments.