Rights of Inclusion provides an innovative, accessible perspective on how civil rights legislation affects the lives of ordinary Americans. Based on eye-opening and deeply moving interviews with intended beneficiaries of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), David M. Engel and Frank W. Munger argue for a radically new understanding of rights-one that focuses on their role in everyday lives rather than in formal legal claims.
Although all sixty interviewees had experienced discrimination, none had filed a formal protest or lawsuit. Nevertheless, civil rights played a crucial role in their lives. Rights improved their self-image, enhanced their career aspirations, and altered the perceptions and assumptions of their employers and coworkers-in effect producing more inclusive institutional arrangements. Focusing on these long-term life histories, Engel and Munger incisively show how rights and identity affect one another over time and how that interaction ultimately determines the success of laws such as the ADA.