First published in 1975, A Constant Burden was a truly ground-breaking text in the field of medical sociology and has since become an undisputed classic. Over thirty years later this revised edition gives new life to this important work. It contains the same seminal study of families with a disabled child, based on an analysis of interviews with parents about the effects of their child's disability on their family life. Whereas much of the contemporary research assumed that the presence of such a child must constitute a problem, and attempted to read parents' responses as indicators of the family's psychological and social adjustment to this 'reality', Voysey Paun's analysis takes a radically different stance. She shows that what parents say should rather be understood as socially constructed accounts of 'normal parenting' which induce others to identify them as properly fulfilling their responsibilities as good parents. Voysey Paun's approach to the analysis and interpretation of interview responses has become a much more central theme for sociological research, instrumental in changing theories about the nature of disability and the family as expressed by sociologists, social workers and other agencies. The revised edition contains a new introduction which puts the study in its intellectual context. It will be essential reading in the sociology of health and illness, and will also be of interest to social workers and other professionals concerned with disability and family life.
Contents: New introduction; Introduction; Underlying pathology and apparent normality; Normal appearances and official morality; Methodology: some autobiography; The families with a disabled child; Definitions of the disabled child as rational constructions: social contexts and common sense; The presentation of normal parenthood: private activities and public performances; The legitimation of suffering; Acceptance and adjustment; References; Index.