Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Baron Pineda


Disability, Developmental disability, Adulthood, Ethnography, Accessibility


Among individuals with developmental disabilities, an individual's needs and self perceptions interact continually with mainstream expectations about adulthood and disability, altering the very way in which the concept of adulthood is expressed. Fieldwork at a county agency serving the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities (consumers) suggests that at the agency's adult day center, unique kinds of social interaction can develop as a result, reflecting the reconciliation of these specific needs and abilities with mainstream expectations.

This county agency seeks to recreate social and economic aspects of mainstream life for individuals that attend this day center, and thus through these social and economic lenses, ideas about adulthood are clearly present. Because the day center is designed to encompass both work and leisure roles, distinct social categories (friend, family member, worker, subordinate, boss); which are otherwise often clearly demarcated and separated by physical setting, blend together and further influence the development of friendships, romantic attachments, and working relationships. The structure of the community alters the construction of these different types of social relationships and gives them layers of additional meaning. Alterations and adaptations are made to the function and structure of each type of adult relationship as the specific needs of individuals interact with this condensed communal setting. An examination of these changes provides information not only about social accessibility, but also about how adulthood is perceived throughout society as a whole.

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Anthropology Commons