• 240 pages
  • 6 x 9
  • 4 figures
  • Price: $32.95
  • EAN: 9781592136988
  • Publication: May 2010
  • Price: $66.50
  • EAN: 9781592136971
  • Publication: Jul 2009
  • Price: $32.95
  • EAN: 9781592136995
  • Publication: Jul 2009

On the Margins of Citizenship

Intellectual Disability and Civil Rights in Twentieth-Century America

Allison C. Carey
  • Scholarly Achievement Award for a Book, North Central Sociological Association, 2010
  • Allison Carey, recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Career in the Sociology of Disability from the Disability and Society section of the American Sociological Association

On the Margins of Citizenship provides a comprehensive, sociological history of the fight for civil rights for people with intellectual disabilities. Allison Carey, who has been active in disability advocacy and politics her entire life, draws upon a broad range of historical and legal documents as well as the literature of citizenship studies to develop a “relational-practice” approach to the issues of intellectual disability and civil rights. She examines how and why parents, self-advocates, and professionals fought for different visions of rights for this population throughout the twentieth century and the changes that took place over that time.

Presenting the shifting constitutional and legal restrictions for this marginalized group, Carey argues that policies tend to sustain an ambiguity that simultaneously promises rights yet also allows their retraction.


"On the Margins of Citizenship is a remarkable book. It has a broad scope, impressively addressing the history of American twentieth-century intellectual disability empirically at the individual, community, and policy levels."
Richard Scotch, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy, University of Texas at Dallas

"On the Margins of Citizenship makes an important contribution to the sociology and American history of intellectual disability. It draws together and analyzes the development of legal rights that affect people with this disability. I am especially impressed with Carey's theoretical grounding. It is clear, succinct, and convincing. This is an excellent work that will prove to be important to scholars and activists interested in intellectual disability."
James Trent, Professor of Sociology, Gordon College

"Carey carefully summarizes...the continuing problematic issues for people facing intellectual disabilities, while seeking inclusion by changing the definitions of citizenship.... Summing Up: Highly recommended."

"Carey succeeds in describing how rights for the intellectually disabled have been conceptualised in the USA. What could have been a dry legal history is made interesting by numerous case studies and Carey’s passionate, yet nuanced, approach to the issues at hand. Ultimately, this is a call to help those who struggle to fit into and succeed in a competitive, often ruthless, society reach their potential. If we are able to help them do so, we may also be living up to our potential as well."
The Social History of Medicine

"In addition to providing an excellent history of intellectual disability in modern America, Carey has given us a model of the questions we need to ask and the themes we need to trace in the ideological histories of all disabilities."

"(W)ritten in an engaging style with relevant and appropriate evidence and examples. It provides a competent argument for the need to change attitudes and challenge the perception of the status of people with intellectual disabilities in the legal system in America....(T)he message is emotive and convincing.... The book is very well researched."
Contemporary Sociology

About the Author(s)

Allison C. Carey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Shippensburg University.