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Title:On the threshold of adult life: Dis-course and life course of mental retardation in American culture
Author(s):Devlieger, Patrick Joseph
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Riley, Thomas J.
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Social Work
Education, Special
Sociology, Individual and Family Studies
Abstract:"On the Threshold of Adult Life" is a study of the transition to adult life of persons with mild mental retardation in American culture. The analysis combines a discourse and life course approach based on (a) ethnographic work with twelve individuals, parents and school or agency personnel, (b) historical research of mental retardation, and (c) life transition. Through interdisciplinary work, the study adds to a dynamic anthropological approach to life transitions by taking into account the impact of history and specialized population on the nature of a recognized life transition. An understanding of the phenomenon of life transition suggests a revision of current policy and practice. The development of transition mediation is proposed and can not be limited to the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process. The use of ethnographic and historical methods and the analysis of discourse and life course issues broadens the intellectual basis for future scholarly work on the life transitions of persons with disabilities.
Chapter 1 reviews policy development on transition and outlines an epistemological position of mental retardation as social construction. An anthropological approach to culture and disability studies is in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 analyses dis-course as historical impact of life transitions of a specific population. Ethnographic life histories of four selected persons with mental retardation in Chapter 4 are the basis for an understanding of the phenomenon of life transition as process. Life transition is defined as a significant flow of events that precipitate personal mediation and is marked by physical changes and social realignment. Chapter 5 situates parents, schools, agencies, and individuals with disabilities between discourse and life course. Subsequent chapters are based on a modified life course analysis that include individual (Chapter 6), social (Chapter 7), and cultural (Chapter 8) dimensions. In the conclusion, the threshold of adult life is presented as the outcome of historical development of stigma, the socialization and negotiation with the culture of mental retardation. Theoretically, the dynamic of life transitions is emphasized in terms of historical, socio-economic, and cultural-competence-impact that individuals and systems face in negotiating a life transition.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Devlieger, Patrick Joseph
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9543568
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9543568

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