Title

The Morality of Interpreting Meaning in Occupational Science

Presenter Information

Rebecca Aldrich

Start Time

26-10-2007 11:45 AM

End Time

26-10-2007 1:45 PM

Abstract

Early assumptions in occupational science indicated a clear disciplinary emphasis on meaning that endures today. Scholars in occupational science have traditionally paid disproportionately more attention to individual meanings over social ones, an imbalance likely due to the historically individualistic tendencies in occupational science as a whole. Although recent movements within the discipline aim to correct this bias, the consequence of such correction with specific regard to the concept of meaning remains underdeveloped. Adopting a more social view into occupational science, such as that of John Dewey, poses interesting possibilities for the discipline’s stance on meaning. Couched within his larger discussions of habit, communication, and action, Dewey argued that meaning is a social phenomenon, concretized in action and intimately linked to morality. Dewey’s social approach to meaning, along with his unique definition of its moral nature, stands to make several contributions to occupational science. In considering all action moral, all communication a social form of action, and all meaning a product of communication, Dewey characterized meaning as non-individual, non-static, a posteriori, and acquired through experience. In terms of occupational science, this suggests that interpreting meanings constitutes an ongoing moral act for researcher and participant alike.

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Oct 26th, 11:45 AM Oct 26th, 1:45 PM

The Morality of Interpreting Meaning in Occupational Science

Early assumptions in occupational science indicated a clear disciplinary emphasis on meaning that endures today. Scholars in occupational science have traditionally paid disproportionately more attention to individual meanings over social ones, an imbalance likely due to the historically individualistic tendencies in occupational science as a whole. Although recent movements within the discipline aim to correct this bias, the consequence of such correction with specific regard to the concept of meaning remains underdeveloped. Adopting a more social view into occupational science, such as that of John Dewey, poses interesting possibilities for the discipline’s stance on meaning. Couched within his larger discussions of habit, communication, and action, Dewey argued that meaning is a social phenomenon, concretized in action and intimately linked to morality. Dewey’s social approach to meaning, along with his unique definition of its moral nature, stands to make several contributions to occupational science. In considering all action moral, all communication a social form of action, and all meaning a product of communication, Dewey characterized meaning as non-individual, non-static, a posteriori, and acquired through experience. In terms of occupational science, this suggests that interpreting meanings constitutes an ongoing moral act for researcher and participant alike.