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African Journal of Disability (Online)

On-line version ISSN 2226-7220
Print version ISSN 2223-9170

Abstract

CHRISTINAH SADIKI, M.; WATERMEYER, Brian  and  ABRAHAMS, Nina T.. Transitioning to a life with disability in rural South Africa: A qualitative study. Afr. j. disabil. (Online) [online]. 2021, vol.10, pp.1-10. ISSN 2226-7220.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v10i0.697.

BACKGROUND: Adjustment to the onset of disability has complex reverberations relating to both socially engendered disadvantage and the realities of functional limitation. Pre-existing ways of understanding disability can meaningfully shape this experience. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to provide an exploratory understanding of the experience of becoming disabled in a low-income, under-served, rural South African community. In particular, it was interested in how people with disabilities constructed their struggle within the conceptual split between disadvantage caused by 'malfunctioning' bodies (a 'medical model' view) and that caused by social organisation (a 'social model' view. METHODS: Seven people between the ages of 39 and 47 who had acquired a physical disability within the last 4 years were recruited in a rural area of Limpopo province, South Africa. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted, and the resulting data were thematically analysed. The authors were positioned as both 'insiders' and 'outsiders' to the participants and sought to use this orientation to best understand and stay faithful to participants' views while simultaneously applying participant's experiences to conceptual knowledge in disability studies. RESULTS: Four themes emerged: (1) emotional impact of onset of disability, (2) being introduced to disablist prejudice, (3) being required to take on a 'disabled' identity and (4) socio-economic implications of becoming disabled. The findings reflected a complex set of adverse experiences in the lives of the participants, spanning disadvantages based on embodied, cultural, relational and environmental factors, which were superimposed on existing, generalised poverty in their local communities. Participants made sense of their predicament in multiple, evolving ways. CONCLUSION: This study contributes to the understanding of the complex predicaments, and sense-making, of persons who have acquired a disability in a rural, impoverished Global South environment.

Keywords : disability; Global South; rural; qualitative; adjustment; social model; medical model.

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