From majority to minority: An analysis of cultural change from ablebodied to disabled

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28 Scopus citations


Research on the communication of persons with acquired physical disabilities gives us the unique opportunity to study individuals who have once been part of the majority and then become members of the minority in their own culture. The purpose of this study was to look at how persons with acquired disabilities move from communicating as members of the ablebodied majority to doing so as members of the disabled minority, focusing on the adjustments they make in their communication and relationships with members of the ablebodied culture. An interview and interpretive analysis method was used with persons who have become disabled since birth. Using DeLoach & Greer's three phases of adjustment to disability as a descriptive framework, the results of the analysis showed that persons with disabilities demonstrate an awareness of their new culture and develop communication strategies to communicate with the ablebodied majority. These communication strategies were argued to constitute impression management, and are designed to facilitate persons with disabilities being accepted as "persons first." This study sheds light on the process that persons go through as they become assimilated and demonstrates communication strategies that are used to adjust to a new culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-483
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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