Discrimination at Every Turn: An Intersectional Ecological Lens for Rehabilitation

Allison Levine, Brenna Breshears

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Intersectionality has been increasingly prevalent in the rehabilitation literature. It has been warned, however, that there can be a flattening of intersectionality should social scientists exclude the various systemic paradigms which contribute to, and sustain, marginalization. In seeking a remedy to this issue, the article establishes an intersectional ecological framework for use in rehabilitation psychology. Using Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory, the article posits a framework both visually and conceptually, that can be used to discuss the intersection of identities in each system. Design: The current article is a review of literature about intersectionality, disability, and discrimination, for the purpose of establishing a gap in theory that makes the current paper necessary. Results: The establishment of an intersectional ecological framework for use in rehabilitation psychology and its related fields. The newly developed framework is then exemplified using discrimination. Implications: The intersectional ecological framework provides myriad opportunities for researchers, practitioners, and educators. The ability to theoretically discuss intersectionality through the lens of ecological systems theory will allow for thorough work in this area. Specifically, this framework will allow researchers to consider multiple systemic levels in exploration of identity-related issues for individuals with disabilities and provides a way for practitioners to see the complicated intersections individuals are experiencing at any given time. Ultimately, this framework has the potential to improve much of the understanding and treatment of people with disabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-153
Number of pages8
JournalRehabilitation Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.


  • disability
  • discrimination
  • intersectionality
  • social justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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