Meta-discourses of disability among people with Multiple Sclerosis
Keywords:discourse analysis, disability, online forums
This study qualitatively analyzes meta-discourses surrounding the term disabled by people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) on the Reddit sub-community r/MultipleSclerosis. It explores medical and social factors influencing whether people with MS identify as disabled, resist the term, or identify in other ways, and discusses how people with MS are reclaiming the discourse of disability. MS, an auto-immune disease targeting the central nervous system, is unique in that it can be “invisible”: it does not always affect the person who has it in noticeable ways. Consequently, the progression of the illness is only one factor cited when users discuss how they identify with the term disabled—social and logistical factors have an influence as well. Therefore, I suggest that instead of prescribing a term to refer to people with disabilities, it may be better to accept the many ways in which individuals with disabilities refer to themselves.
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