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Neal Harris

most explicit about his investment in ‘social pathology’. For Fromm, the ‘pathological normalcy’ of capitalism must be central to the Frankfurt School’s research agenda, and his conceptual apparatus is explicitly constructed to enable the diagnosis and disclosure of social pathologies. Yet Fromm does not provide easily operationalisable avenues for applied social research; his

in Critical theory and social pathology
Expansion in manufacture, design and access, 1851–1904
Gemma Almond-Brown

This chapter demonstrates that the expansion of spectacle manufacture and changing features of spectacle design had a decisive influence on medical practitioners’ inability to assert control. As a result of mass manufacture and a more uniform, well-fitting frame, the accessibility and functionality of spectacles reached wide acceptance. The chapter investigates how the scale of spectacle manufacture and dispensing was an obstacle in the way of medical attempts to encroach on and monopolise vision testing and spectacle dispensing. This, I suggest, complicates medical definitions of normalcy, abnormalcy and disease and challenges the parameters devised by medical practitioners in the 1850s. This chapter draws heavily upon material culture and explores the specificities of design to highlight how manufacture developed and how certain design features – particularly the spectacle frame’s side-arms – enhanced frames’ overall usability. It argues that medical definitions of ‘normalcy’/‘abnormalcy’ were too simplistic and failed to capture the diversity of visual capacity in Victorian Britain. Indeed, the scale of spectacle manufacture affected medical practitioners’ ability to claim and exert their area of expertise. Here, the chapter teases out some of the peculiarities of visual aids, and their adaptability for mass manufacture, in comparison to other forms of assistive devices and prostheses.

in Spectacles and the Victorians
Neal Harris

in Chapter 3 ), I suggest rebuilding pathology diagnosing social research on Erich Fromm’s insight that the very ‘normalcy’ of today’s social world is itself deeply pathological. While Fromm’s account holds remarkable potential, in this chapter I bring it into dialogue with the writings of his contemporary, and erstwhile rival, Herbert Marcuse

in Critical theory and social pathology
The changing meaning of Usher syndrome, 1960–1980
Marion Andrea Schmidt

psychologist and eminent advocate for Deaf culture, criticized this ‘inferred brain lesions’ as an example for the medicalization of deafness. 22 This is certainly true. Yet Vernon’s insistence on neurological damage as the real cause for deaf difference is also part of a longer tradition in the history of deafness, disability, and eugenics. Faced with accusations of inferior otherness, social deviance, or educational underachievement, minorities have often reacted by emphasizing their middle-class respectability, normalcy, and ability, in turn excluding those who did not

in Eradicating deafness?
Queering Alien Resurrection
Brenda Boyle

The critical response to Alien Resurrection marked a departure from negative responses to Alien3. Oblivious to the films parting from the trilogys characterization as ‘simultaneously feminist and gynophobic’, some critics remained steadfast to that trope, insisting ‘Ripley is still the same person.’ Critics of the trilogy determined its sub-text to be concerned with gender and reproduction and went on to assert the same of Alien Resurrection. Where the trilogy offered a vision of Ripley,through a heterocentric lens, with blurred but visible divisions between monstrous and human, (and what distinguished them had to do with means of reproduction), AlienResurrection eradicates boundaries so it becomes impossible to determine whether ‘normal’ human or monster, can even exist in this world. The issue of sexuality becomes paramount to the issue of reproduction and gender. In the course of the trilogy, gender is made obsolete; Alien Resurrection finishes the job in rendering terms of sexual normalcy immaterial. The alien queen who has mutated into a parthenogenetically reproducing creature is described as ‘perfect’; what kind of meaning can that sort of reproduction or creature have in a heterocentric world? This world and its inhabitants are beyond heterosexuality, and perhaps beyond sexuality as we know it. Consequently, reconsidering AlienResurrection through a queer lens which inquires into sexuality offers a fuller and more fruitful reading than does one through gender or the biological labyrinth of reproduction.

Gothic Studies
Open Access (free)
Phoebe Shambaugh

. This issue also marks our entry into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of the previous general issue introductions have used the pandemic as a thread; this one will be no exception. As we enter a new phase of ‘opening-up’ (I write in February 2022) and ‘return to normalcy’ in the Global North, we mark heightening tensions and renewed violence geopolitically, with new forms of misinformation, posturing and political division. The pandemic continues to heighten inequalities in wealth and quality of life, both within and across national borders. Nevertheless

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
A Realistic Ambition?
Pierre Mendiharat
Elba Rahmouni
, and
Léon Salumu

in this part of Kenya, where the anthropological literature had established a link between the HIV epidemic’s explosion and traditional sexual practices in the Luo community. A survey conducted by Dr Xavier Plaisancie 10 among the male population of Homa Bay showed the contradictions that existed between the social rules regarding normalcy and virility and the public health messages, and the difficulty individuals had in resolving them. In Ndhiwa, we immediately made

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Setting the standards for disability in the interwar period.

Measuring difference, numbering normal provides a detailed study of the technological construction of disability by examining how the audiometer and spirometer were used to create numerical proxies for invisible and inarticulable experiences. Measurements, and their manipulation, have been underestimated as crucial historical forces motivating and guiding the way we think about disability. Using measurement technology as a lens, this book draws together several existing discussions on disability, healthcare, medical practice, embodiment and emerging medical and scientific technologies at the turn of the twentieth century. As such, this work connects several important and usually separate academic subject areas and historical specialisms. The standards embedded in instrumentation created strict but ultimately arbitrary thresholds of normalcy and abnormalcy. Considering these standards from a long historical perspective reveals how these dividing lines shifted when pushed. The central thesis of this book is that health measurements are given artificial authority if they are particularly amenable to calculability and easy measurement. These measurement processes were perpetuated and perfected in the interwar years in Britain as the previously invisible limits of the body were made visible and measurable. Determination to consider body processes as quantifiable was driven by the need to compensate for disability occasioned by warfare or industry. This focus thus draws attention to the biopower associated with systems, which has emerged as a central area of concern for modern healthcare in the second decade of the twenty-first century.


Critical theory once offered a powerful, distinctive approach to social research, enabling sociologists to diagnose the irrationalities of the social world across institutions and forms of thought, even within the subject’s deepest desires. Yet, with the work of Axel Honneth, such analytical potency has been lost. The ‘domestication’ of critical theory stems from the programme’s embrace of Honneth’s ‘recognition-cognitivist’ understanding of social problems; where all social maladies are understood to lie, ultimately, within the head of social subjects and within the intersubjective relationships they enact. This book explores the manifold limitations of this dominant understanding of social pathologies and builds towards an alternate theoretical infrastructure, drawn from a marriage of insights from Erich Fromm and Herbert Marcuse. While Honneth’s critical theory leads to researchers exploring all social problems as ‘pathologies of recognition’, a return to Fromm and Marcuse reminds critical theorists that power precedes subjectivation and that a wide range of pressing social problems exists which are invisible to the recognition framework. As such, this book urges critical theorists to once again think beyond recognition.

Open Access (free)
Coreen Anne McGuire

the campus, to be described as normal or average would be akin to an insult. This is not a comment on the student mindset; it is a comment on the average mindset. A recent BBC Radio 4 documentary explained that 85 per cent of us would identify ourselves as above average, a huge increase compared with the 1950s, when only 50 per cent would make such a claim. 1 Many have noted this societal shift – everyone wants to be unique. Yet when it comes to our health, we still strive to remain within the boundaries of normalcy. We might all desire to be uniquely dressed

in Measuring difference, numbering normal