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Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care

BSc (Hons) Psychology: Year Two

Community Social Psychology Portfolio A portfolio outlining and assessing three CSP sessions and their relationship to community, culture, identity and self

Word Count: 1495 12th March 2012

Lauren. L. Stockton

A portfolio outlining and assessing three CSP sessions and their relationship to community, culture, identity and self
SESSION ONE- Disability, Poverty and Development (Shaun Grech) The lecture elucidated critical, progressive and cruel links between disability, poverty and development, which aided reflections and initiated engagement with the complexities in the disability-majority world debate. Also, the controversial relative western constructed term disability was challenged, as the presumptions of disability and development proved to be overwhelmed with ideologies. Thus, the vicious circle of poverty causing disability and disability causing poverty and the impact on the development of social change and education was acknowledged. Therefore, as disability intensifies poverty, the social, economic and political spheres are greatly affected (Grech, 2009). However, estimations of the global prevalence of disability are not comparable as they tend to vary dramatically. Disability trends are higher in developed rather than undeveloped countries, with gender effects occurring as female disability rates are higher in developed countries and lower in undeveloped, suggesting severe impairments may be male dominated, and/or females may be under-reported or receive less care and die sooner (Elwan, 1999). It is noted that when poverty causes disability, it can lead to secondary disabilities, resulting from deprived living environments, unemployment, malnutrition, poor access to health care and education opportunities (World Bank, 2007). The global disability, poverty and vulnerability cycle is fearsomely increasing, as it is presently estimated that those with a disability make up 15-20% of the population in undeveloped countries (Elwan, 1999, p. 56) with over 1 billion children living in severe poverty, and over 850 million without adequate shelter, safe water and health services (UNICEF, 2009). Those with disabilities in developing countries have been severely overlooked in the development agenda, with little poverty reduction strategies in place (Zinkin & McConachie, 1995). Females with a disability are at the most disadvantaged from birth in some undeveloped cultures (Bowe, 1984); if allowed to survive, then family discrimination can instantly occur, due to shame and stigmatization for having a disabled daughter (Albert et al, 2004). Fike (1991) found disabled girls receive less food, care, medicine, rehabilitation services and opportunities for education and employment; with an estimated 40-80% of reported mental, physical and sexual abuse occurring in the home before the age of 18. Some parents hide their disabled child from their community to reduce blame and humiliation, thus creating isolation and a loss of self and identity for the child.


Lauren. L. Stockton

Disability and poverty has been described in many ways by different theorists, making it hard for a universal understanding and relationship to be agreed. Sen (1999) drew the two closer, by describing the deprivation of capabilities and opportunities presented to those with disabilities and/or those in poverty. Various models of disability, poverty and the associations with Harris & Enfield (2003, p. 172) forming the charity, medical and social models. The charity model states that those with a disability are tragic victims, who lose a sense of identity due to low self-esteem and chronic suffering, therefore there is a need to implement special services to prevent further social exclusion. Whereas, the medical model states a need for a cure, as disability is a physical problem, which aims to create a norm by making those with a disability normal to reduce social and economic disadvantages and limited opportunities (Albert et al, 2004). Finally, the social model suggests disability results from the poor organization of society, which creates different types of discrimination: (Handicap international, 2006) attitudinal, environmental and institutional, which creates obstructions preventing people with disabilities from controlling their own lives. The literature presented demonstrates the need for increased interventions for those with a disability and/or in poverty in undeveloped countries. The sense of self-identity is removed, and stigmatizations decrease awareness, removing help in the community.

Word Count: 500.


Lauren. L. Stockton


Albert, B., McBride, R. & Seddon, D. (2004). Perspectives on disability, poverty and technology. Asia Pacific Disability Rehabilitation Journal, 15(1), 12-21. Bowe, F. (1984). Disabled Women in America: a statistical report drawn from census data. Presidents Committee on Employment of the Handicapped: Washington, D.C. Elwan. A. (1999). Poverty and Disability: A survey of the literature. Social protection Unit Research on the economic consequences of disability: World Bank. Ficke, R.C. (1991). Digest of Data on Persons with Disabilities. Washington, DC. National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research. Grech. S. (2009). Disability, poverty and development: critical reflections on the majority world debate. Disability & Society, 24(6), 771-784. Handicap International (2006). Making PRSP Inclusive: Christoffel-Blindenmission. Harris, A. & Enfield, S. (2003). Disability, Equality and Human Rights: A Training Manual for Development and Humanitarian Organisations. Oxfam Publication in association with Action on Disability and Development (ADD): Oxford. Sen, A. K. (1999). Development as freedom. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. UNICEF (United Nations Childrens Fund). (2009). Its About Ability: an Explanation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities & the state of the Worlds children. New York: UNICEF. World Bank Key Development Data and Statistics. (2007). People with Disabilities in India: From Commitments to Outcomes. Human Development Unit, South Asia Region. Washington DC: World Bank. Zinkin, P. & H. McConachie. (1995). Disabled Children & Developing Countries. Mac Keith Press: Cambridge University Press.


Lauren. L. Stockton

SESSION TWO- Inequality and Mental Health (Rebecca Lawthom)

The lecture demonstrated various explorations into the concepts of mental health, illness, wellbeing and social inequality, and the connections that occur between them. Also, that discourse varies depending on the context and situation; therefore each term has a tendency to mean something slightly different with a wide range of outcomes for individuals and communities. Furthermore, the association of mental health can be of a positive or negative nature. The absence is influenced by the presence of positive mental health, sometimes referred to as wellbeing (Bauman, 2007, p.14), which can produce a valuable sensation of greater emotional and social wellbeing with fewer limitations in daily life and increased educational and employment and opportunities. Mental health is essential to understanding the influence of inequality on health, as it is clear that the prolonged pressure of limited and disadvantaged materiality is intensified by existing in an unequal society.

Social status and economic separation remains the strongest predictor of the emotional and cognitive effects that inequality and mental health have on individuals. Bourdieu (1985) supports claims that inequalities arise from class difference and social positions, as life opportunities are increased for those with an upper or middle class status, therefore they do significantly better in education from an early age, compared to those with a working class or unemployed status, despite of a similar ability levels. Lamont and Lareau (1988) theorise that working class children could never achieve natural familiarity of those born in middle and upper classes, and are therefore academically penalised on this basis (p.155). This indicates that the lower classes are at an acute and chronic disadvantage, thus aiding deterioration in mental health. Wilkinson (1997) supported this by stating that income inequality produces psychosocial stress, which leads to deteriorating health and higher mortality over time. Such states of income inequality can also produce effects in society, causing; stress, frustration and family disruption, which then dramatically increase the rates of crime, homicide and violence (Wilkinson, 1996).

Society responds to such behaviour, in a continuing and distinct prejudiced view that the medicalised response and confinement of marginalised groups- such as those with mental illness, those existing in poverty and those who are criminal- creates the solution and cure for those who are troubled or do not fit into the mainstream routine of society. Komito (1998) states that norms [4]

Lauren. L. Stockton

develop within a community, which guide behaviour and share understanding, thus forming a collective identity as communities enable social interactions and adopt the process of identity formation. Therefore, if cohesion is lacking due to decreased common interests, then communities do not develop and co-identities are not formed (Holzner, 1983).

Many theorists have consistently found a strong link between inequality and mental health prevalence. Psychiatric disorders, including neurotic disorders, functional psychoses and alcohol and drug dependence, found that prevalence is greater amongst those in lower social classes (Meltzer et al, 2004). However, Friedli et al (2007) suggests that mental health is socially produced, and therefore needs a social and individual solution to avoid disembodiment from social structure and context. Whereas, Rogers & Pilgrim (2003), states that there is a complex relationship, but inequalities and social division does not necessarily lead to disadvantage.

Word Count: 495.


Lauren. L. Stockton


Bauman, Z. (2007) Liquid Times: living in an age of uncertainty. Cambridge: Polity Press. Bourdieu, P. (1985). The Forms of Capital: Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. New York: Greenwood. Friedli, L. & Parsonage, M. (2007). Building an economic case for mental health promotion. Belfast: Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health. Holzner, B. (1983). Social Processes and Knowledge Synthesis. In A. Spencer & L. Reed (Eds.), Knowledge Structure and Use: Implications for Synthesis and Interpretation. Temple University Press. Komito, L. (1998). The Net as a Foraging Society. Flexible Communities. The Information Society, 14(2), 97-106. Lamont, M. & Lareau, A. (1988). Cultural Capital: Allusions, Gaps, and Glissandos in Recent Theoretical Developments. Sociological Theory, 6, 153-168. Melzer, D., Fryers, T. & Jenkins, R. (2004). Social Inequalities and the Distribution of Common Mental Disorders. Maudsley Monographs Hove: Psychology Press. Rogers, A. & Pilgrim, D. (2003). Inequalities and mental health. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Wilkinson, R. G. (1996). Unhealthy Societies: The Afflictions of Inequality. London: Routledge. Wilkinson, R. G. (1997). Health inequalities: relative or absolute material standards. British Medical Journal, 314, 591595.


Lauren. L. Stockton

SESSION THREE- Queer Theory (Rebecca Lawthom)

The lecture gave a brief history and identified the key issues surrounding the intellectually complex movement in contemporary sexual politics; queer theory. The derivation is essentially rooted in post-structuralist critiques, with the term being coined in 1990; where critical approaches raised issues of a normative straight ideology and resistance to heterosexism with the civil rights movement (Turner, 2000). Also, queer theory challenged the notion of gender and sexuality as unnecessary to identity, arguing that identity is not fixed and is mutable. Consequently, identity cannot be categorised or labelled, because it comprises of many components, and to categorise by simply one is wrong. Furthermore, discussions allowed for consideration of the socially constructed nature of identity and sexuality (Rogoff, 2003), with respect to stereotypical media influences, limitations in traditional political mannerisms and recognition of self-identity. Principally within queer theory the aims are to maintain a constant critic opposing sexual categories and remove classifications of male and female, as it believes that gender is not a biological given, thus humans learn to talk about themselves in a political manner. Green (2007), states that gender, race and nationality are established through governing logic, requiring interventions through queer theory; which recognizes the complications of sexual identity categorizations, and resists specific forms of domination, such as heterosexism and homophobia. Halperin (1997, p.62) suggested that queer theory begins with a critical analysis of the notion that sexuality is natural and immutable, therefore defining it as:

"by definition it is whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant. There is nothing in particular to which it necessarily refers. It is an identity without an essence. Queer then, demarcates not a positivity but a positionality vis--vis the normative". Cass (1979) developed the Cass identity model, which empowered gay and lesbian identity development in an extremely heterosexist society, where homophobia was rife. Gay people were treated as normal and homosexuality perceived as problematic. Within queer theory, gender is perceived as a drag (a performance; a production; an act), therefore professed sexual


Lauren. L. Stockton

identities, such as the lesbian, are re-written and re-read as identity formulated and scripted by a media driven culture (Terry, 1991), festooned with artifacts and performed within a dialogical social sphere, that is overly populated with countless other performances and characters (Warner, 1993). Through growing up in a culture where the media strives to dominate and tyrannize how a persons identity, sexuality and gender should be, much discrimination and prejudices occur to those who do not fit in with such regularizations, similar to those with a disability. This creates a loss of self-identity as queer is recognized as the disadvantaged class of society, who lack a voice, community support, guidance and diversity. The medical, educational and legal systems can be biased and have previously attempted to eradicate homosexuality, primarily due to distortions, myths and oppression of media stereotypes; creating a lack of support for sexual identity formation. Furthermore, Turner (2000) supports the notion that language, signs and symbols play an important role in shaping the meaning of culture. Derrida (1978, p. 143) states that the need to freely express ourselves sexually, is a realization of community. Queer theory constructs binary oppositions that allow barriers to be destroyed, so less discrimination occurs and the idea of self-subjectivity can be unformed.

Word Count: 500.


Lauren. L. Stockton


Cass, V. (1979). Homosexual identity formation: A theoretical model. Journal of Homosexuality, 4(3), 219-235. Derrida, J. (1978). Violence and Metaphysics: the thought of Emmanuel Levinas in Writing and Difference. University of Chicago Press: Chicago.

Green, A. I. (2007). Queer Theory and Sociology: Locating the Subject and the Self in Sexuality Studies. Journal of Sociological Theory, 25(1), 26-45.

Halperin, D. (1997). Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography. Oxford University Press, p. 62.

Rogoff, B. (2003). The Cultural Nature of Human Development. New York: Oxford University Press.

Terry, J. (1991). Theorizing deviant historiography. Differences, 3, 55 74.

Turner, W. B. (2000). A Genealogy of Queer Theory. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Warner, M. (1993). Fear of a queer planet: Queer politics and social theory. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.