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Omsorg & kontroll: En handikapphistorisk studie 1750-1930. Föreställningar och levnadsförhållanden
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of culture and media studies.
2010 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of the present dissertation is to investigate attitudes toward individuals suffering from functional disorders or categorized as disabled and the conditions under which they have lived. The present author applies an historical perspective and identifies three significant turning points: the end of the eighteenth century and beginnings of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The terms ”care” and ”control” reflect the complexity and conflict inherent in the perception and handling of these individuals.

In the first period, folklore helped both explain and shape the way people apprehended infants born with functional disabilities or whose mental or physical developmet was aberrant. The inroads made by science during the eighteenth century helped combat these notions with knowledge and information. Upon ”discovering” the handicapped, the advocates of science identified them as an untapped source of labor. All that was needed was a conscientious upbringing and education. As a consequence, and with the blessings of the state and private charitable institutes, an increasing number of experts assumed parental obligation, thereby initiating a comprehensive institutionalization.

The second period is epitomized by the founding of the first special needs school in Sweden, the National Institute for the Blind and Deaf-Mute in Stockholm in 1809. The actions of individuals like the energetic Per Aron Borg and the blind woman Charlotta Seuerling´s desire to receive a better education were small events with major significance. The diverging views of politicians and teachers on the form and content of lessons, which can be boiled down to a matter of theoretical knowledge versus practical vocational training, are also discussed.

In the third period I focus on the increased control to which individuals with functional disabilities, specifically the vision-impaired and blind, were subjected at the outset of the twentieth century. Beginning in 1903, a countrywide inspection tour visited the blind in their homes. The inspectors were given the dual task of offering concrete support to the blind and look into their abilities to support themselves and live socially-approved, moral lives. It was an invasion of privacy with good intentions. The accumulated results showed that only a small number of individuals were able to support themselves in the trades they had acquired at blind school. Most continued to be dependent on relatives, social services and charitable donations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Department of Culture and Media Studies, Umeå University , 2010. , 318 p.
Etnologiska skrifter, ISSN 1103-6516 ; 52
Keyword [en]
Disability history, disabled, deaf, blind, mentally-retarded, perceptions, normality, deviation, discipline, upbringing, education, science, folklore
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-32905ISBN: 978-91-7264-980-4OAI: diva2:306672
Public defence
2010-04-23, Humanisthuset hörsal E, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2010-04-01 Created: 2010-03-30 Last updated: 2010-04-01Bibliographically approved

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