Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 7-1-2013

Journal / Book Title

Disability & Society


This article attempts to explain why the social constructionist paradigm has failed to replace the medical model in American disability theory. The social movement led by American disability activists attempted to reframe the definition of disability using a minority group model based on the social constructionist paradigm. This paper argues that the disability movement was unable to successfully advance the social constructionist paradigm because the activists accepted the Americans With Disabilities Act (1990) despite its ideological basis in the medical model of disability, and the social constructionist theory does not adequately account for the importance of structural constraints to redefinition

Published Citation

Donoghue, C. (2003). Challenging the authority of the medical definition of disability: An analysis of the resistance to the social constructionist paradigm. Disability & Society, 18(2), 199-208.