Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Medical Anthropology

pp 360-373


  • Russell P. Shuttleworth


This entry has three primary aims: (1) to provide a brief overview of the kinds of bodily and behavioral differences perceived as anomalous in a range of societies and the various social responses to these differences; (2) to review and critique research and theory in the anthropology of impairment-disability; and (3) to suggest several conceptual advancements that would move this area of study forward.

Cross-Cultural Review of Responses to Bodily and Behavioral Differences

As a broad inclusive category, and from a strict constructionist perspective, disability exists only in locally specific relation to Western European notions of medicalization, employment, and welfare (Groce, 1999; Whyte & Ingstad, 1995). Yet, some range of physical and behavioral differences are recognized in all societies and there are often social consequences that follow from this recognition. While it is of paramount im ...

This is an excerpt from the content