Sample Sociology Paper on Medical and social approaches to Disability

Medical and social approaches to disability

In the book sociology of health, illness, and health in Canada, Strohschein and Weitz introduce us to the social and medical  model approaches to disability. According to these authors, health sociology is so essential because it clarifies the crucial role that social factors play in impacting the well-being of individuals, groups, and society as a whole. For instance, the development of “medicine” from a small-scale business in the 1800s to a vast complicated of norms of behavior, societal norms, practitioner practices, financial interests, and structured services, all of which have an impact on both societal health and the quality of healthcare, is a remarkable aspect of contemporary Canadian society (Godley, 2018). This paper examines the medical and social approaches to disability and the debates and special interests that specifically underlie the three approaches.

The special interests that underlie the three approaches to disability

Reasearches have shown that people’s thoughts toward disabilities are subjective by their thoughts. Even though everyone has a unique perspective on disability, these viewpoints can be divided into three broad categories: moral, medical, and social models of disability  (Weiss & Copelton, 2020). Each model discusses about the supposed causes of impairment, appropriate remedies, and inner implications.

The moral model 

According to the moral model, a person’s disability has implications for their character, actions, ideas, and destiny. According to this viewpoint, impairment can be associated with stigma, humiliation, and guilt, especially if it is thought of as a sign of misbehavior. Disability can sometimes be viewed as a badge of fortitude, faith, or dignity. For instance, a religious person can think that God’s faith in them led to God choosing them or a member of their family to have a disability. A disability may sometimes be viewed as a triumphant memory of overcoming adversity, e.g., a polio epidemic or stepping on a land mine  (Weiss & Copelton, 2020). The moral model is widely accepted and frequently portrayed in the media. For instance, some films portray wickedness by using a physical impairment. In contrast, some films show people with disabilities who go above and beyond what is expected of them to accomplish extraordinary things, like a person in a wheelchair who scales Yosemite’s El Capitan.

The medical model 

According to the medical model, a disability is a pathological impairment of a body system or function. According to this viewpoint, the objective is to bring the structure or performance as close to “normal” as is practical. According to the medical concept, experts in disabilities are those with specific training. People with disabilities are obliged to heed their recommendations. According to Weiss & Copelton, (2020), clinical and medical terms are used in the medical model’s language (e.g., left hemiplegia; partial lesion at the T4 level (Godley, 2018). This point of view is occasionally evident in the educational, health, and mental health sectors. The medical model of disability is frequently portrayed in films through a plot in which a disabled person is miserable and sad but chooses to appreciate life through a relationship with a non-disabled person (Mykhalovskiy et al., 2019). The belief that disabled people teach people with physical abilities how to be good individuals is a reversal of this.

The social model 

The social model views a person’s disability as a component of their identity, much like their color, ethnicity, gender, and so on. According to this concept, a person’s impairment results from an inappropriate environment (both physical and social). Not the impairment, but this environment is what generates the limitations and hurdles. According to this viewpoint, rather than focusing on those who have disabilities, the best method to treat disability is to alter the environment and society (Weiss & Copelton, 2020). Ecological alteration and complete contribution are disadvantaged by destructive stereotypes, prejudice, and injustice. Multiply disabled individuals who bond, learn, and mature independently of a non-disabled person are more common in films that portray disability using a social model (Mykhalovskiy et al., 2019). Other movies portray disabled people more realistically, whether it be in the context of devoted families that are not “burdened” by the condition, in a society where discrimination is prevalent, or as activists fighting to change the legislation.

A sociological critique of disability

Numerous published views from inside and outside the medical profession have questioned how medicine has treated mental disease and disability over the past six decades. These criticisms frequently refer to the “medical model,” a phrase with various connotations but that is nearly at all times used unconstructively. Disability scholars and self-advocates have been prominent rivals of the “medical model,” attacking it and promoting an unusual “social model” that analyses disabilities as the outcome of a repressive and intolerant culture rather than an interpersonal or medical issue (Mykhalovskiy et al., 2019). The “social model” and “medical model” have commonly been applied to contrast opposing standpoint on disability, but underlying historical development and changing definitions have got little attention (Weiss & Copelton, 2020). Because of the lack of knowledge available to doctors regarding what these notions imply to patients, it has been challenging to address their concerns appropriately (Mykhalovskiy et al., 2019). Fully accepting social-model beliefs would include political involvement on the part of doctors and a better importance on societal issues as opposed to individual ones. Even if most health professionals do not get on some of these roles, a better understanding of disability viewpoints and imminence with critiques of the medical model may allow them to find new ways to develop patient care while also improving support and opportunities for clinical apprentices and coworkers with disabilities.

Since its inception by psychiatrist Thomas Szasz in the middle of the 1950s, the assessment of the medical model has been expressed in a variety of ways in the history of psychiatry. One interpretation, known as the antireductionist perspective, criticized medicine’s propensity to attribute disease and incapacity to physiochemical causes. Health professionals were big fans of this kind of criticism, which called for changing medical practice to make doctors more aware of the nuanced psychological components of health and illness. Although antireductionist reforms do not call into question the fundamental significance of medicine in taking care of  people with mental issues and disabilities, most doctors have found them to be more pleasant than calls for exclusion (Mykhalovskiy et al., 2019). Psychologist George Engel was a notable advocate of an antireductionist viewpoint in the 1970s. He attacked the medical model, urging an alternative “biopsychosocial model” in place of reductionist natural scientific methods. Engel argued that mental illness constituted a sickness and that its biological causes should not be discounted, setting his perspective apart from Szasz and other “exclusionists” (Godley, 2018). At the same time, Engel argued that medicine needed a more complex understanding of the disease, considering both psychosocial problems and physiochemistry.

Conclusively, disgrace and restored faith are possible results of the moral model. Although the medical model is authoritarian, it has greatly advanced rehabilitation. The social model fosters community, yet institutional ableism can be oppressive. Most people probably hold opinions about multiple models. But it is difficult to say because there isn’t yet a recognized way to measure the models. More information about disabled people’s perspectives on the expenses and advantages of their specific disability model is required.





Godley, J. (2018). Everyday discrimination in Canada. The Canadian Journal of Sociology/Cahiers Canadiens de Sociologie43(2), 111-142.

Mykhalovskiy, E., Frohlich, K. L., Poland, B., Di Ruggiero, E., Rock, M. J., & Comer, L. (2019). Critical social science with public health: Agonism, critique and engagement. Critical Public Health29(5), 522-533.

Weiss, G. L., & Copelton, D. A. (2020). The sociology of health, healing, and illness. Routledge.