Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Baxter, Vern

Second Advisor

Allen, David

Third Advisor

Mann, Susan


This is a theoretical and exploratory study of the social construction of the lived experience I am calling "ableness."  Through the repetition of behaviors and practices performed by able-bodied people, the representation of the able body has come to appear natural and unconsciously taken for granted, as they do not have to think about their bodies in interaction with everyday objects. I argue that this able-bodied solipsism is heightened in advanced industrial societies where discourses and practices created by Human-Factors Engineering compile knowledge based on the assumption that the able body is the norm. This knowledge is then employed in the fabrication of everyday items. Through an examination of theoretical perspectives on impaired bodies, a history of human-factors engineering, and an ethnography of how able bodies interact with their everyday surroundings, I intend to uncover the assumptions underlying the social construction of "ableness" and able-bodied solipsism.


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