On the outskirts of normality: Young adults with disabilities, their belonging and strategies

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Olin, Elisabeth ; Ringsby Jansson, Bibbi (2010)
  • Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
  • Journal: International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being (issn: 1748-2631)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/qhw.v4i4.5021

During the last decades, the living conditions for young people with disabilities have changed dramatically in Sweden, as well as in other parts of the Western world. The boundaries between what is considered normal as opposed to different have become less clear as a result of these changes. This has been followed by new problems regarding integration and changing patterns of marginalization. The aim of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which young adults' social identity is shaped by their dual belongings: to the category of individuals with disabilities as well as to mainstream society. In- depth interviews were carried out with 15 young adults with mental disabilities and mild intellectual disabilities occasionally combined with various forms of social problems. The analysis focused on the ways in which the young adults related to what they describe as normal and different as well as their strategies for navigating between them. The data was subsequently divided into three categories: Pragmatic Navigators, Critical Challengers, and Misunderstood Rebels, which refl ect the ways in which the respondents describe themselves and the perspective they have developed to manage their existence. Key words: Intellectual disabilities, mental disabilities, social identity, normality, stigmatization, strategies, social belonging.
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