Intellectual disability study based on deviance and labeling theory : Jane R. Mercer's mental retardation theory and the development of new assessment tool
清水, 貞夫玉村, 公二彦
54 , 2015-11-30 , 奈良教育大学
In this article we analyzed the sociological labeling theory, especially focusing on Jane R. Mercer and also including the social climate of 1960s. According to Mercer, there are two perspectives in which mental retardation can be considered: (1) the clinical perspective and (2) the social system perspective. The clinical perspective is characterized by the simultaneous use of a medical model and a statistical model though these two models are frequently confused. She contends it is not appropriate to apply a medical model to mild mental retardation, but it is more appropriate to adopt a social system model for analyzing problems that people with mild retardation would meet in a community. She argues that from a social system perspective, mental retardation is a sociocultural phenomenon, That means that mental retardation is an achieved status in a social system and persons holding that status plays the social role designated by the social system. From Mercer’s researches at Riversides, she found that there were a disproportionately large number of black persons and Mexican American persons labeled by community agencies. She also discovered that the schools were the chief labelers. From these and other findings Mercer came to three major conclusions. The first one is that clinicians and psychologists in the community were not measuring adaptive behavior only because there were no adaptive scales available for them to use. This meant that they judged persons as persons with mental retardation almost entirely on the basis of an IQ test score. The second one is that the cut-off point of an IQ score should be lowered to 2SD below, though public schools were using the cut-off point of IQ 79 or below. Third one is that tremendous cultural biases exists in the IQ test and the test is not appropriate when used with lower class persons who do not share the same cultural traditions as the dominant Anglo American society. These conclusions lead her to develop an improved assessment test called the System of Multicultural Pluralistic Assessment (SOMPA). SOMPA includes an extensive battery of measures. SOMPA has extensively reviewed and debated, so it has not recognized as a valid assessment tool for children yet. Mercer's social system approach, however, provides us with the new perspective about intellectual disability. According to Mercer intellectual disability is not mental defect or deficiency, but a kind of devalued deviancy which is determined to be deviant by other people in the social system.