Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Sara Green, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Donileen Loseke, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Maralee Mayberry, Ph.D.


disability, exclusion, hierarchy, identity, inclusion


Narratives help individuals to make sense of their lives and their everyday worlds. Within these narratives, individuals make sense of identities. Historically, people with disabilities have been depicted as helpless victims of their own bodies. However, during the twentieth century, disability rights social movements constructed a counter-narrative, stating that society’s reactions to different bodies was the real source of disability. While this was a positive status change for people with disabilities, it did not do enough to shed the status as victim. Yet many students with disabilities do not see themselves as victims. Therefore, I used narrative analysis to answer the question: “How do university students with disabilities make sense of their identities as adults with agency through narratives?” Furthermore, these narratives are not created in a vacuum. Many stories of identity-making surrounded narratives of being included or excluded from various social situations, leading to my second research question: To what extent have students with disabilities felt included/excluded in aspects of university life including clubs, organizations, sporting events, and other social aspects of the university in which other students participate? I am focusing on people with disabilities who seek accommodations, as they are acknowledging that they need help, which goes against the narrative of rugged individualism found in the United States of America. However, my research found that university students who seek accommodations do not construct themselves as victims. On the contrary, many students receiving accommodations construct narratives in which they are more hard working and more moral than other students.

Included in

Sociology Commons