‘I don’t command the equal respect as my peers’: Middle-class disability, stigma and social expectation in Ghana
Disability spoils the identities of persons with disability and exposes them to stigma. Contrary to the belief that disability stigma is associated with the low social class position, middle-class persons with disability also experience stigma. Experiences of poor and underprivileged persons with disability are well documented but the experiences of middle-class persons with disability are often unnoticed. This study explored how middle-class persons with disability experience lowered social expectations because of their assumed vulnerability and supposed functional incompetence. Using the hermeneutic phenomenology approach, the study explored the lived experiences of 16 middle-class persons with disability who were purposively selected. Data was collected through in-depth interviews and analysed using the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis approach. The participants shared experiences from various parts of Ghana. Middle-class persons with disability are assumed to lack physical strength, intellectual abilities, financial capacities, and relational abilities. They are, therefore, often treated with contempt. These experiences are influenced by nuances in social norms, relational factors, and personal characteristics such as social class, age, gender, type of impairment, and time of acquisition of impairment. Persons with disability are not a homogenous category of people. They are as diverse as non-disabled people are. The differences in their individual identities and social statuses must be considered in the design and implementation of social inclusion interventions and welfare policies meant to eliminate disability stigma and discrimination.
© 2018 The authors.
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