The social meaning of place and people with developmental disabilities

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Steven J. Taylor


mental retardation, community integration, special education

Subject Categories

Other Mental and Social Health


Many definitions of community include three common elements: (1) place, (2) people, and (3) a sense of belonging or membership. The types of places that people spend time influence their social relationships and their sense of belonging. In the past, many people with developmental disabilities were isolated from other community members in segregated settings. Today, people with disabilities commonly use many community places alongside people without disabilities. This study focuses on the experiences of seven adults with developmental disabilities in community places. Although they all spend a lot of time in various community places, they also spend time in numerous segregated settings, and their access to some community places, particularly social settings composed of others without disabilities, is Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.. The people in this study do not simply experience "neighborhood opposition" or "community acceptance"; they have a range of both negative and positive experiences, depending on personal style, as well as the nature of various places. Possible experiences include: a feeling of safety, being known, a feeling of acceptance, familiarity, identification with, and a sense of accommodation. Related to personal style of forming community connections, were three general approaches taken by informants: joiners, informal community socializers, and loners. In addition, a variety of places demonstrated acceptance of the informants; this acceptance ranges from a passive acceptance to a more active acceptance. There were two types of active accepting places: incidental accepting places and intentional accepting places. The informants' access to active accepting community places is limited by a variety of factors. Efforts to consciously think about place with regard to three dimensions of people's lives--rootedness, choice, and shared social space--will increase opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to experience community acceptance and membership, and at the same time will increase the capacity of communities and community places to be open and accepting.


Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.