Ableism in Society - Definition and Explanation

Ableism in Society – Definition and Explanation

Ableism in Society


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Ableism in Society – Understanding the Concept and Its Implications

Ableism, a pervasive yet often overlooked form of discrimination, significantly impacts individuals with disabilities within various societal structures. 

  • Definition of Ableism

    • Ableism refers to the beliefs, practices, and institutional systems that devalue individuals based on their disabilities, whether physical, intellectual, or psychological. It encompasses both conscious and unconscious biases, leading to discrimination and social exclusion.
  • Explanation of Ableism in Society

    • At its core, ableism prioritises able-bodied norms and standards, often marginalising those who do not fit these criteria (Oliver, 1996). It manifests in various societal domains, including employment, education, healthcare, and media, where accessibility, representation, and equitable opportunities for disabled individuals are frequently limited .
    • Ableism also intersects with other forms of discrimination, such as racism, sexism, and classism, compounding the challenges faced by disabled individuals who also belong to other marginalised groups.
  • Example of Ableism

    • A prevalent example of ableism in society is the lack of accessible infrastructure in urban planning. Many public spaces, buildings, and transportation systems inadequately accommodate the needs of people with physical disabilities, thereby restricting their mobility, independence, and participation in community life .


Bogart, K. R., & Dunn, D. S. (2019). Ableism special issue introduction. Journal of Social Issues, 75(3), 650-664. Https://

Darrow, A. A. (2015). Ableism and social justice. The Oxford handbook of social justice in music education, 204-220. Https://

Loja, E., Costa, M. E., Hughes, B., & Menezes, I. (2013). Disability, embodiment and ableism: Stories of resistance. Disability & Society, 28(2), 190-203.

Wolbring, G. (2008). The politics of ableism. Development, 51(2), 252-258. Https://

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