"Socialt problem" eller "Som andra och i gemenskap med andra": Föreställningar om människor med utvecklingsstörning
1999 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
The background of the present study is an interest in how human capacities and limitations have been perceived during the 20th century in Sweden. The empirical work concemes the discursive constitution of the needs and resources of people who have been considered mentally handicapped. In addition, the study analyses the interrelationships between discursive constructions of the characteristics of these groups and the concrete care provided. The main question is to what extent people falling into such categories have been construed as 'a social problem' or 'lika others' and with a need and right to live 'in the community of others'. These are the two extreme constructions which operate during this period and which provide the background for radically different attitudes towards these groups.
The empirical work consists of three case studies from three different periods during this century representing different conceptions of people with mental handicaps. The first period attended to is between 1916 and 1944. Here, the activities and the argumentation of a very intluential politician, physician and chief administrator of the care for these groups, Alfred Petren, have been focused. Petren acted on the basis of a eugenic perspective and initiated the sterilization law. In his extensive writings(in state reports, scientific anicles etc) he argued for the close connection between moral defectiveness and mental handicaps. Owing to his central position, and his position as a scientist, poliyician and administrator, Petren became very influential for a long time, and he could enforce his views by, among other things, the creation of institutions which lead to total segregation from society.
The second case study is based on empirical material from 1955. In this case, tha data consists of discussions in local newspapers when the politicians of a small town in central Sweden decided to build an institution for 300 severly mentally retarded in the vicinities of the town. The decision resulted in intense protests from a clear majority of the population. A heated debate ensued that concerned the consequences for the well-being and safety of the citizens following the establishment of such an institution. The debate illustrates the significance of the social construction of phenomena such as handicaps.
The third period analysed is the 1990'ies and the closing down of the traditional institutions. The focus here is on how the staff construe the capacities and limitations of the former inmate of these institutions, and to what extent the staff think that they can manage the transition to live 'like others and in the community of others'.
In all these reforms and changes, the representation in language of the needs and capacities of people is central. There is an intimate interplay between the discursive constitution of handicaps in texts and talk (in science, legal documents, newspapers etc), and the opportunities generated for people who are considered as handicapped.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 1999. , 400 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 201
Mental retardation, mental handicap, social construction of mental handicaps, institutionalization, integration-segregation of handicapped, discourse and mental handicaps
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-33848Local ID: 19920ISBN: 91-7219-554-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-33848DiVA: diva2:254671
1999-10-01, Sal Elysion, Hus-T, Universitetsområdet Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)