Hollywood Takes on Intellectual/Developmental Disability: Cinematic Representations of Occupational Participation Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Adults with intellectual/developmental disability (IDD), and their occupational participation, are vastly under-represented in Hollywood films. Because films often provide individuals' only experience of people with IDD, cinematic representations can influence audience perceptions. Thus, films can help inform public perceptions about desired and appropriate occupational participation for people with IDD, potentially impacting their access to meaningful occupational participation and achievement of occupational potential. Accordingly, this research examined occupational portrayals of adults with IDD in contemporary Hollywood films. Occupational portrayals, as defined here, refer to representations of the dynamic process of the person participating in occupation(s) in a context. Grounded theory methods guided coding and analysis of qualitative data collected from eight contemporary films using an occupation-focused tool. Two major, striking themes emerging from the qualitative analysis--infantilization and simplification of participation in complex occupations (with three associated sub-themes)--are discussed. Implications of the findings and future research directions are considered.

publication date

  • January 2014