3After the Romanian revolution in 1989, people with disabilities were finally seen in the community. The communists induced the idea that it is shameful to have a family member with a disability.Most of the disabled people were hidden, abandoned in hellish institutions and treated worse than animals.The aim of this study was to research the present perception of disability in Romanian society.
4There are very few studies regarding disability in Romania The research was focused especially on period after 2007, when Romania joined E.U.Desirability became a very dangerous estate among Romanian citizens that could lead to tokenism and covered disablism.The research was focused on implicit and explicit perception towards disabled people.
5Central research question: What is the present social perception towards disabled people in Romanian society?Secondary research questions:Is the Romanian social perception towards disabled people related to medical model or to social model of disability?Is there a difference between implicit and explicit Romanian social perception towards disabled people?
6Phenomenological methodology Qualitative approachExploratory researchPhenomenological methodologythe researcher cannot be detached from his own presuppositions and should not pretend otherwise (Hammersley, 2000).the phenomenologist are concerned with understanding social and psychological phenomena from the perspectives of people involved (Welman and Kruger, 1999, p. 189).Epistemological position:data were contained within the perspectives of people that are involved with disabled people in daily activitiesI define a positive attitude towards disability any perception, attitude, behavior, or belief related to social model of disability- data were analyzed from this perspective
7Sampling:26 disabled people, aged between years old, different professions and different levels of education were interviewed.“Who are the people that you meet most often daily and that you are interested in their attitude towards you and your disability?”Over 50 % answers indicated people between school-age and very old age, having the following professions: pupils, students, clinicians, nurses, social workers, retired people, priests, solicitors, notaries, sales people, taxi and bus drivers, policemen, waiters, teachers, accounters, plumbers, cleaners, other public services people.Snowballing method85 participants covering all targeted professional areas, age range and from the most important 5 Romanian regions: Moldavia, Ardeal, Banat, Regat and Dobrogea.
8Explicitation of the data-Hycner’s (1999) explicitation process: Methods:phenomenological in-depth semi structured interviewsfocus groups interviewsmind mappingguided empathy in disabilitymemoing or field notesExplicitation of the data-Hycner’s (1999) explicitation process:Bracketing and phenomenological reduction.Delineating units of meaning.Clustering of units of meaning to form themesSummarizing each interview, validating it and where necessary modifying it.Extracting general and unique themes from all the interviews and making a composite summary.Cognitive dissonance theory (Leon Festinger, 1957), concept of habitus (Pierre Bourdieu, 1994), hermeneutics (Hans-Georg Gadamer, 1960), sociological imagination (C.Wright Milles, 1959), spread phenomenon (Dembo et. al., 1956).
10“If I would be Cristina (disabled person), I am not sure if I would like to live anymore. She’s loved by her family, but I assume they are shame to go out with her”. (interview, C.D., 25 years old, nurse)“...and that person, ALTHOUGH he was a wheel chair user, denied everything they [the colleagues] were supposing about him, proving eventually that he had a strong personality and, TO EVERYBODY’S AMAZEMENT, he was professionally even better than many of our normal colleagues”. (Interview, I.P., 46 years old, prosecutor)“They (disabled people) have a hard life, because they can’t earn money by being employed, and they need care specialists to keep an eye on them all the time… Sometimes you are amazed to see how a disabled person is coping with a difficult job. If I would be disabled I would feel the need to work ten times harder, to prove everybody that I am not under their level!...” (interview, P.G., 58, accountant)
11Central themes:The big difference between being born disabled and getting an impairment through an accident or a diseaseFamily as a vital support in living with a disabilityThe poverty of disabled people in Romania increased by the economic crisisThe disabled beggars and their enormous influence on negative social perception.Bucharest underground , trains, railway stations and busses disabled beggarsdisabled beggars across Europedisabled beggars actorsIsolation of disabled people or institutionalization (as protective measures), abusive behaviors, financial advantages of poor families with disabled membersMedia as an important influence factor in building social perspectives towards disability
12Results:Central research question – the social perception towards disabled people in Romanian society is still a negative one, based on prejudice, stigma and compassion.First research question – 91% of participants’ perception is congruent with the medical model of disability. 9%, whose perception was correspondent to social model of disability was almost exclusively formed by professionals working with disabled people.Second research question – no significant difference between explicit and implicit perception towards disabled people in Romanian society (different declarative and implicit perceptions were situated under 7%).The results revealed that:The social model is almost unknown among RomaniansSpread phenomenon determine the assessment of disabled people capabilitiesThe negative attitude and behavior due to wrong approach determined by low level of knowledge related with disability.
13Conclusions:The social perception towards disabled people in nowadays Romanian society is still a perception based on the medical model of disability.There are no significant evidences that Romanians have different implicit and explicit perceptions about disabled people.Even if Romanian people is a loving and compassionate nation, people still don’t have enough knowledge about disability and about social model of disability, and they fail in practicing a positive attitude towards disability.
14Gadamer, Hans-Georg, Truth and Method,1960. ReferencesBourdieu,P. (1994)( Practical reason: on the theory of action, Stanford University press, Stanford California, 1998)Dembo,T.(1969).Rehabilitation psychology and its immediate future: A problem of utilization of psychological knowledge. Rehabilitation Psychology,16,Gadamer, Hans-Georg, Truth and Method,1960.Hycner, R. H. (1999). Some guidelines for the phenomenological analysis of interview data. In A. Bryman & R. .G. Burgess (Eds.), Qualitative research (Vol. 3, pp ). London: Sage.Mills, C.W., (1959), The Sociological Imagination, 'The Promise', Chapter 1, p.5.Welman, J. C., & Kruger, S. J. (1999). Research methodology for the business and administrative sciences. Johannesburg, South Africa: International Thompson.
15Contact information: VASILICA STAMATIN MSC in Psychology Ph.D. student in Sociology Babes-Bolyai University,Cluj, Romania