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No Right to Be Idle The Invention of Disability, 1840s-1930s by Sarah Rose

No Right to Be Idle The Invention of Disability, 1840s-1930s


No Right to Be Idle The Invention of Disability, 1840s-1930s by Sarah Rose

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a major transformation was occurring in many spheres of society: people with every sort of disability were increasingly being marginalized, excluded, and incarcerated. Disabled but still productive factory workers were being fired, and developmentally disabled individuals who had previously contributed domestic or agricultural labor in homes or on farms were being sent to institutions and poorhouses. In this book, Sarah F. Rose pinpoints the origins and ramifications of this sea change in American society, exploring the ways that public policy removed the disabled from the category of deserving recipients of public assistance, transforming them into a group requiring rehabilitation in order to achieve self-care and self-support. By tracing the experiences of advocates, program innovators, and disabled people caught up in this epochal transition, Rose masterfully integrates disability history and labor history. She shows how disabled people and their families were relegated to poverty and second-class economic and social citizenship. This has vast consequences for debates about disability, poverty, and welfare in the century to come.


Integrates disability history and labor history to examine how, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the United States, people with disabilities lost access to paid work and acquired the status of morally questionable dependents in need of permanent rehabilitation.--Law & Social Inquiry Accessible writing and evocative case studies across seven chronologically and thematically arranged chapters reveal the well-intentioned but paternalistic operation of early disability services. Highly recommended.--Choice

About the Author

Sarah F. Rose is associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Arlington.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th January 2017


Sarah Rose

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The University of North Carolina Press


400 pages


Labour economics
Disability: social aspects
History of the Americas



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