Identity, impairment and disablement

exploring the social processes impacting identity change in adults living with acquired neurological impairments

Karen Hutchinson, Chris Roberts, Michele Daly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The social model of disability acknowledges the impact of impairments but argues that disablement is socially constructed. Taking a theoretical perspective, underpinned by the social model of disability and elements of social identity theory, we investigated the relationship between impairment, disablement and identity change in adults living with an acquired neurological impairment. Through the thematic analysis, three themes emerged: changing self described the personal factors for identity change in people acquiring impairment; changing communities explored the contextual factors creating both socially constructed disablement and identity change; and influencing identity change considered strategies adopted by individuals to both counter socially constructed disablement and promote exploration of identity. A systemic change towards acknowledgement and valuing a disabled identity may counter socially constructed disablement and support enablement and social inclusivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-196
Number of pages22
JournalDisability and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes



  • acquired neurological impairments
  • adults
  • disablement
  • identity change
  • social identity
  • Social model of disability

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