An Institutionalist Explanation of the Evolution of Taiwan’s Disability Movement: From the Charity Model to the Social Model

I-lun Tsai, Ming-sho Ho


In this article, we analyze the process of institutional change in Taiwan’s disability field by focusing on the role of social movements. An institutional perspective emphasizes how a particular logic in an organizational field generates formal and informal institutions that define how persons with disabilities are treated in a society. Before the 1990s, the charity model was dominant, and later it came to be challenged by the disability movement, which advocated for the social model. We argue that the transition to a social model was a major achievement by disability organizations, which successfully combined the dual roles of advocate and service provider. By making strategic use of welfare privatization in the 1990s, they were able to mobilize a series of lobbying campaigns. Their efforts culminated in the passing of the Physically and Mentally Disabled Citizens Protection Act in 1997, which marked the beginning of the social model in Taiwan.

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