Title

Panel Session: Complexity Science and Occupation Reconsidered

Start Time

31-10-2004 8:30 AM

End Time

31-10-2004 10:00 AM

Abstract

Like occupational science, complexity science is a new and emerging academic discipline which has emphasized interdisciplinary cooperation. A variety of theories have been developed within complexity science to help understand the behavior of complex, nonlinear systems. The roots of complexity science can be traced to general systems theory, and its scope has grown to include dynamic systems theory, chaos theory, and complex adaptive systems theory. Historically, occupation has been analyzed and occupational models have been developed around linear models, including general systems theory. In recent years, however, there has been a call to begin exploring the application of nonlinear models to the analysis of occupation.

Contemporary applications of complexity theory in occupational science have typically involved understanding the individual as a complex system. This panel presentation will expand upon recent work within occupational science, by exploring three different and interacting levels of analysis through the lens of complexity science. At the first level, the individual is viewed as a complex system, and occupation is seen as an emergent phenomenon of the system. At the second level, the individual is viewed as an agent interacting with others in the co-production of occupation. Finally, at the third level, the occupations emerging from either or both of the first two levels can be viewed as forming a system which can be analyzed through concepts from complexity science.

Understanding and distinguishing between these levels of analysis is important for occupational scientists for at least three reasons. First, it may provide a theoretical space for integrating disparate conceptions of occupation. Second, it prompts questions regarding the interaction and mutual influence between these different levels. And finally, it suggests new areas for occupational science research.

Outline of Plan for the Session:

A. Introduction to complexity theory

  1. What are complex systems?
  2. Review non- linearity, sensitivity to original conditions, emergent properties, self-organization, and self reinforcement.
  3. Dynamic systems theory, chaos theory, complex adaptive systems theory, and self organizing holarchic open systems.

B. History of relationship between occupational science/therapy and non-linear systems theories.

C. Towards integration: Further theoretical applications of complexity theory to occupation and the importance of levels of analysis.

  1. The individual as a complex system.
  2. Occupation as a complex system.
  3. Social Complexity - Individual as agent.

D. Implications for Occupational Science

  1. Theoretical integration of concepts of occupation
  2. New directions for research

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Oct 31st, 8:30 AM Oct 31st, 10:00 AM

Panel Session: Complexity Science and Occupation Reconsidered

Like occupational science, complexity science is a new and emerging academic discipline which has emphasized interdisciplinary cooperation. A variety of theories have been developed within complexity science to help understand the behavior of complex, nonlinear systems. The roots of complexity science can be traced to general systems theory, and its scope has grown to include dynamic systems theory, chaos theory, and complex adaptive systems theory. Historically, occupation has been analyzed and occupational models have been developed around linear models, including general systems theory. In recent years, however, there has been a call to begin exploring the application of nonlinear models to the analysis of occupation.

Contemporary applications of complexity theory in occupational science have typically involved understanding the individual as a complex system. This panel presentation will expand upon recent work within occupational science, by exploring three different and interacting levels of analysis through the lens of complexity science. At the first level, the individual is viewed as a complex system, and occupation is seen as an emergent phenomenon of the system. At the second level, the individual is viewed as an agent interacting with others in the co-production of occupation. Finally, at the third level, the occupations emerging from either or both of the first two levels can be viewed as forming a system which can be analyzed through concepts from complexity science.

Understanding and distinguishing between these levels of analysis is important for occupational scientists for at least three reasons. First, it may provide a theoretical space for integrating disparate conceptions of occupation. Second, it prompts questions regarding the interaction and mutual influence between these different levels. And finally, it suggests new areas for occupational science research.

Outline of Plan for the Session:

A. Introduction to complexity theory

  1. What are complex systems?
  2. Review non- linearity, sensitivity to original conditions, emergent properties, self-organization, and self reinforcement.
  3. Dynamic systems theory, chaos theory, complex adaptive systems theory, and self organizing holarchic open systems.

B. History of relationship between occupational science/therapy and non-linear systems theories.

C. Towards integration: Further theoretical applications of complexity theory to occupation and the importance of levels of analysis.

  1. The individual as a complex system.
  2. Occupation as a complex system.
  3. Social Complexity - Individual as agent.

D. Implications for Occupational Science

  1. Theoretical integration of concepts of occupation
  2. New directions for research