Being exceptional

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter contributes to the discourse of difference by problematiz-ing the sameness/difference trope through the lens of the exceptional. It explores the nature of being exceptional with an expectation that its nature is contingent and variable. At the heart of understanding what constitutes exceptional is its implicit comparison with the average. While exceptional is defined to include both individuals who achieve in extraordinary ways and individuals with a physical or mental impairment, the two definitions are consonant in that both describe individuals who deviate from expected norms. Relying on the insights from pragmatism, this chapter considers community habits exceptional individuals must confront in forming their choices. In this way, it further adheres to the lessons from pragmatism for norm change. The strategies individuals use to alter the effects of being perceived as exceptional contribute to the overall discourse in equality and equal protection and potentially constitute the individual action that formulates change. It examines some approaches to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) derived from civil rights and from economic perspectives and the relevant matrix of choices available to the exceptional to understand the potential for productive change. With this foreground, it examines the choice of exceptional individuals to cover or convey matters of their identity. This chapter pays particular attention to these choices in seeking accommodations under the ADA. Ultimately, this study strives to participate in the conversation seeking to maximize human potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStudies in Law Politics and Society
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages28
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Publication series

NameStudies in Law Politics and Society
ISSN (Print)1059-4337


  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Civil rights
  • Difference discourse
  • Disability rights
  • Economic theory
  • Identity
  • Pragmatism
  • Tort doctrine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Being exceptional'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this