Studying Disability: Multiple Theories and Responses. New Book from Elizabeth DePoy and Stephen French Gilson

January 25, 2011

Studying Disability: Multiple Theories and Responses (book cover)
Studying Disability: Multiple Theories and Responses (book cover)

Elizabeth DePoy and Stephen French Gilson, professors of social work and interdisciplinary disability studies at the School of Social Work and the Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies (Maine UCEDD), have published a fully integrative text analyzing disability from a variety of disciplines. Studying Disability: Multiple Theories and Responses (Sage Publications, 2011) first critically examines existing theories and then sets forth a new viewpoint that incorporates progressive and contemporary thinking and action from humanities, social sciences, and professional fields.

"This is our second book focusing on disability," Dr. DePoy notes. "Over the years since our 2004 book, Rethinking Disability: Principles for Professional and Social Change, we have heeded our own advice and 'rethought and rethought.' Building on the work of many disciplines and professions, this book reflects our most recent ideas and theories. We have come to a point in which we see disability as a complex issue that requires collective ideas and strategies in order for local through global civilizations to promote equality of rights, justice, and comfort for all."

In Studying Disability, DePoy and Gilson explore the history of disability with a focus on both Western and non-Western cultures, and examine the historical conceptions of disability and how they have informed contemporary lives and civil rights of diverse community members. They explore and synthesize a wide range of both classic and new and emerging theories to develop their own complex approach to defining disability. Dr. Gilson acknowledges the inherent tension in this approach. "In this book, we have sought to address and productively use the tension among diverse perspectives, models, and approaches to disability," Gilson says. "We hope that the ideas provide guidance for thought, dialogue and collaboration."

The book concludes with a section on application of theory to the intellectual domain as well as professional and public realms and advances disjuncture theory, a complex approach which seeks to expand the fit of the full range of individuals within contexts.

In recent years, DePoy and Gilson have been honored nationally and internationally for their research and scholarship by the Council on Social Work Education, the American Public Health Association, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, the Society for Disability Studies, the Society for Peace in the Middle East, and the University of Maine. Both also hold appointments as Senior Research Fellows with Ono Academic College, Research Institute for Health and Medical Professions, in Kiryat Ono, Israel.