Perspectives on Disability and Community Engagement in Albania: Developing Mutual Understanding Through the Sharing of Individual Narratives

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Murillo, Lucia
Albania; autism; critical hermeneutic theory; development; disability; special education; Education Policy
thesis / dissertation description
This study explores current perspectives on disability in Albania by bringing into discourse the voice of families and community members in order to learn how history, tradition, and family values influence individual or community response to having or being in community alongside children with special needs.Research Theory and ProtocolI carried out this research using critical hermeneutic theory. The protocol followed an interpretive approach as outlined by Ellen Herda (1999). This orientation brought the researcher and participants together and used narratives as a medium for participatory inquiry.Research CategoriesThe critical hermeneutic concepts of narrative identity, mimesis, and communicative action were used to guide my research. Narrative identity (Ricoeur 1992) is important in helping to understand how history, traditions, and family values have influenced personal stories. Mimesis (Ricoeur 1984) addresses the temporal aspect of our lives by recognizing the influence of past and future in our present. Communicative action (Habermas 1984) emphasizes the use of discourse in community to help reach mutual understanding.FindingsData analysis revealed the following findings: (1) personal experiences with disability motivated participants to begin to question traditional family roles and social response; (2) the concept of disability is not well understood and is a topic that was not typically discussed in families and communities; (3) public awareness campaigns are desired as a way to increase the understanding of disability issues.