In praise of normal: Re-reading Wolfensberger

Document Type

Book Chapter


University of Chester Press


School of Arts and Humanities




Boxall, K. (2016). In praise of normal: Re-reading Wolfensberger. In Mallett, R.,Ogden, C., and Slater, J. (eds). Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane: Precarious Positions (pp. 260 - 281). Chester, U.K.: University of Chester Press.

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Discussions in critical disability studies have tended to downplay the positives of "normality" and have focused instead on difference and its challenges to "the norm". This chapter departs from this tendency by both highlighting the penalties of perceived difference which may be experienced by individual disabled people and arguing that normality may afford some protection from these penalties. The chapter begins by reflecting on the author's personal experience as someone who has survived the psychiatric system and also worked in services for people with intellectual disabilities. It then goes on to look at historical perspectives and Wolfensberger's ideas about Normalisation and Social Role Valorisation before discussing normalcy and penalties of difference. Finally, the chapter concludes by arguing that it may now be time to shift the emphasis back towards "the normal" and to focus attention on commonalties between human beings, rather than differences.