Leadership, ideology and the community living movement
This is a study of the international community living movement to enable people with disabilities to either leave custodial institutions or be supported to live improved lives in the community. It is examined from the vantage point of the closure of a local mental retardation institution in western Massachusetts. This local example was seen as being a microcosm of a larger social movement and was deeply influenced in its broad outline by the ideology of normalization (now increasingly referred to as social role valorization theory). The study examined the identity and role of fourteen local service delivery leaders who both helped propel the aims of improved community living and eventually close the institution by the early 1990's. The study revealed the important role of ideology as a mobilizer of change, the influence of other contemporary social movements in providing a broad framework for change, the commitment of governments to the expansion and adequacy of public services in the 1970's and 1980's, the shift in professional opinion towards a preference for community living, the induction into the system of dissident young people in large numbers, the family and related advocacy movements and the key role of pivotal professional leaders in service and government roles. The study revealed the fragility of being able to sustain this movement into the future notwithstanding the remarkable success in closing institutions for several decades at an increasing rate.