Author: Yang, Jing
Title: Compensating for disability identity through marriage : a grounded theory study on married women with disabilities in a southwest Chinese township
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2013
Subject: Women with disabilities -- China.
Marriage -- China.
Sociology of disability.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: xii, 332 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
Abstract: This study is the first attempt to theorize the married life of rural-based women with disabilities. Grounded theory method was employed as the research method. Data was collected through in-depth interviews and ten months' fieldwork observation in Bai Township in Southwest China in 2010. Nineteen married women with different types of disabilities, including physical, hearing, speech, intellectual and psychiatric disabilities were studied. Some of their family members also participated in this study. Compensating for disability identity emerges as a basic process that can explain the marriage of these women. Match-making is seen as a preparatory stage of this process that aims to minimize the risk of abuse and maximize security and satisfaction in their marriage. Selecting a partner with relatively inferior quality is a strategy to balance these women's lower status caused by their disabilities. Women are found to compensate for their disability identity with fertility, role performance and ability in their married lives. In the western literature, women with disabilities deal with their disability identity mainly in two ways: some women perceive disability identity as one of their multiple identities and thus do not want to be identified in terms of their disabilities; others choose to claim a collective identity on the basis of their disabilities and strive for equality in the society. The disability identity of the women in this study seems to contaminate their other identities to a much lesser extent. The perceived importance of fertility by the villagers of a patriarchal culture provides an opportunity for women with disabilities to enter marriage. In other words, the patriarchal village society normalizes these women to a certain extent despite their disabilities. The satisfactory performance of the roles as a wife, a mother and a daughter-in-law is another form of compensation for the disability identity. Furthermore, for women with good ability in earning an income for the family, they gain respect and recognition in the family and in the village and their disability identity gradually becomes less prominent. However, it is observed that the combination of the relatively lower status of these women and their husbands with inferiorities reinforces their marginalized family status in the village society. A practical model named barrier-removing approach is suggested to provide social work service to women with disabilities in rural areas of China. It is argued that these women can identify their problems and strengths. The genuine difficulty lies in the barriers confronting them during the problem-solving process. Some of these obstructions are beyond their capacities to remove in view of the limited resources they have. Social workers have a role to help develop their capacities and raise their consciousness in accordance with the indigenous culture. The barrier-removing model is a process of empowering both social work and women with disabilities.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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