Cover image for The difference that disability makes
The difference that disability makes
Michalko, Rod, 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Philadelphia, Pa. : Temple University Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
x, 194 pages ; 23 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV1568 .M53 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Rod Michalko launches into this book asking why disabled people are still feared, still regarded as useless or unfit to live, not yet welcome in society? Michalko challenges us to come to grips with the social meanings attached to disability and the body that is not normal.Michalko's analysis draws from his own understanding of blindness and narratives by other disabled people. Connecting lived experience with social theory, he shows the consistent exclusion of disabled people from the common understandings of humanity and what constitutes the good life. He offers new insight into what suffering a disability means to individuals as well as to the polity as a whole. He shows how disability can teach society about itself, about its determination of what is normal and who belongs. Guiding us to a new understanding of how disability, difference, and suffering are related, this book enables us to choose disability as a social identity and a collective political issue. The difference that disability makes can be valuable and worthwhile, but only if we choose to make it so.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

A student in this reviewer's graduate disability studies course exclaimed in frustration that if people with disabilities claimed to be like everybody else, then she would treat them like everybody else. The student's position erased the notion of disability identity, culture, history, art, or politics and reduced the experience of disability to a personal medical problem to be solved by science and technology. Michalko (St. Francis Xavier Univ.) moves beyond such reductionist follies in a subtle, carefully reasoned text that explores the spaces between normal and abnormal, sameness and difference, and nature and culture. He even tackles the sacred "person-first ritual" (e.g., "child with a disability," "woman who uses a wheelchair") as a tactic to pass as "normal" or as the "same" as nondisabled people. His book is not only an important contribution to the emerging discussion on disability identity formation, but it is also a cautionary note about depoliticizing disability within such entities as university service units for disabled students. Michalko concludes with a passionate call to "come out" as disabled and stop being caught up in the seductive power of the "normal." Highly recommended for advanced students pursuing interdisciplinary approaches to social change. P. A. Murphy University of Toledo

Table of Contents

1 Introduction
2 Home Is Where the Heart Is
3 The Social Location of Suffering
4 Coming Face-to-Face with Suffering
5 The Birth of Disability
6 Image and Imitation