Negotiating Identity and Masculinity Among Men with Early Onset Physical Disability
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Current research on masculinity and disability focuses on the ways in which disability interacts with masculinity, but there is a lack of research on the ways in which masculinity interacts with specific impairment types. This study seeks to give attention to men with early onset physical disabilities and their development of masculinity and disability, as previous research has suggested that the early onset of a physical disability may shelter these men from expectations of masculinity. This research is designed to explore the experiences of this population, guided by four research questions: 1) the ways in which men with early onset physical disabilities perceive or define traditional American standards for masculinity; 2) how these men compare their own senses of masculinity with traditional standards; 3) whether they have redefined masculinity for themselves or adopted non-traditional standards, and 4) how they compare their own developmental paths with those of other men. This study was exploratory in nature, and was conducted with open-ended surveys. There was a diversity of responses among this population. Some men focused on individual characteristics and efforts as means to accessing traditional standards of masculinity, while others gave increased attention to the ways in which external influences and barriers impact their access, offering critiques and reformulations of these standards. The results of this study reflect, in part, the findings of existing research, while also offering unique insights into some possibly significant differences among this demographic warranting further research.
Early Onset Disability