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Gil Eyal
Gil Eyal
Professor of Sociology, Columbia University
The Autism Epidemic
The Autism Epidemic
Autism has grown from a rate of 4 in 10,000 in 1988 to 1 in 88 today. Is this the sign of an epidemic? Eyal argues that it is the result of social processes, most importantly the de-institutionalization of mental retardation and parental activism. Underlying these processes, however, there is an even deeper reason: autism's ambiguity, its capacity to be in-between mental illness and mental retardation, in-between "curable" and "incurable," make it into a fertile site for innovations in science, therapy, activism and advocacy. The increase in the rates of autism should be understood as indicative not of an epidemic, but of the emergence of a new institutional matrix for identifying, accommodating and understanding developmental disabilities.
Max Caffe
1262 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027, USA
Bio
Gil Eyal is an expert in all things relating to the sociology of knowledge, intellectuals, and expertise. He has written extensively about the transition from socialism to campitalism in Eastern Europe, as well as Israeli societal affairs. His book, The Autism Matrix: The Social Origins of the Autism Epidemic, was the 2012 winner of the Science, technology and knowledge (SKAT) section of the American Sociological Association's Merton Prize for Best Book.