This paper considers sociological understandings of what constitutes disability. Current meanings of disability in both disability studies and medical sociology are examined and compared, using selected articles from leading authors in each discipline as case studies. These disciplines are often represented as offering starkly contrasting approaches to disability, with their differences amounting to a disciplinary 'divide'. It is argued that, on closer inspection, common ground can be found between some writers in disability studies and medical sociology. It is suggested that this situation has arisen because, in disability studies, the social relational understanding of disability developed by Vic Finkelstein and Paul Hunt in the 1970s has been lost over time, overshadowed by the rise to prominence of its offspring: the social model of disability. The paper concludes with some reflections on the need to revive a social relational understanding of disability.