Redefining disability: a rejoinder to a critique

Solveig Magnus Reindal


Recently, scholars have argued that disability activists' redefinition of disability' as a social problem, rather than a medical problem, is maleficent, unjust, and inconsistent. It seems that the discussion on whether disability is a medical or a social category is not settled and that disability is an essentially contested concept. However, the question is: What is the social aspect in disability? It appears that there is some confusion as to what the social is in a social definition of disability. The article pursues possible reasons for this confusion by investigating the critique of the social model. This is followed by a discussion on what a possible space for the social might be in a social definition of disability. Such a space is illuminated by using the framework of the World Health Organization's International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF). The article suggests that disability as a social category is not inconsistent if reframed within a social relational model of disability.


disability theory, ICF, philosophy

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