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Exploring Esoteric and Exoteric Definitions of Disability: Inclusion, Segregation, and Kinship in a Special Olympics Group

Exploring Esoteric and Exoteric Definitions of Disability: Inclusion, Segregation, and Kinship in a Special Olympics Group

Chapter:
(p.41) Chapter Two Exploring Esoteric and Exoteric Definitions of Disability: Inclusion, Segregation, and Kinship in a Special Olympics Group
Source:
Diagnosing Folklore
Author(s):
Olivia Caldeira
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496804259.003.0003

Folklorist William Hugh Jansen’s (1959) classic work on esoteric and exoteric folklore has frequently been used to understand how groups identify themselves and others, but this classification becomes complicated when working with individuals with intellectual disabilities who may or may not self-identify as “disabled” or understand disability as something that applies to them because it hinges on relational conceptions of normalcy. In chapter 2, “Exploring Esoteric and Exoteric Definitions of Disability: Inclusion, Segregation, and Kinship in a Special Olympics Group,” Olivia Caldeira revisits Jansen’s concept of esoteric/emic and exoteric/etic and expands on Shuman’s preceding discussion of stigma and individuals with intellectual disabilities. Drawing from fieldwork with a group of Special Olympics athletes, Caldeira applies Richard Bauman’s (1971) concept of differential identity to emphasize how disability is commonly used to describe others but not oneself. In doing so, she investigates new ways of understanding the concept of disability as a fluid term that is more about understanding deviance rather than static notions of normalcy.

Keywords:   Special Olympics, Intellectual Disabilities, Normalcy, Esoteric/Exoteric, Stigma

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