Title

Action Theories as a Basis for Occupational Science

Start Time

26-10-2007 2:00 PM

End Time

26-10-2007 3:30 PM

Abstract

If occupation is indeed some “chunk” or other form of activity that is meaningful to individuals and society (Yerxa et al., 1989), then action must be a central part of understanding occupation. We believe it is fair to suggest that the edifice of occupational science is unstable until an adequate foundation of action theory is constructed. That is the challenge we seek to take up in this paper ˜the beginning of a rigorous development of that foundation of occupational science thought and thereby an essential part of occupational science’s continuing development. Because action theory is a diffuse area of knowledge crossing many centuries and disciplines, our coverage is by necessity selective. We utilize works by philosophers and social theorists primarily, and focus more on the work of John Dewey and Pierre Bourdieu than others. This bias is based on the compatible and complementary nature of the two theorists‚ work and the realization that their combined action theories provide a metatheoretical basis for usefully understanding and investigating occupation. Our focus also allows us to build on recent attempts to re-theorize occupation from a less individual-based orientation (Dickie, Cutchin, & Humphry, 2006) and extend and deepen that understanding with additional theoretical material. We begin the analysis with a summary assessment of occupational science’s position on action and related concepts. In that section, we suggest where weakness in occupational science exists vis-à-vis action and why those weaknesses need addressing now. From there, we begin the discussion on action theory. We structure our analysis into three phases, each focusing on a different key element of action theory: habit, context, and creativity. We conclude the argument with an example of occupation viewed through action theory, and we aim to explain in summary form what potential these particular action theories hold for occupational science. In the end a new definition of occupation is offered: occupation is a type of relational action through which habit, context, and creativity are coordinated toward a provisional yet particular meaningful outcome; the type of occupation is defined by the particular combination of habit, context, creativity, and provisional outcome.

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Oct 26th, 2:00 PM Oct 26th, 3:30 PM

Action Theories as a Basis for Occupational Science

If occupation is indeed some “chunk” or other form of activity that is meaningful to individuals and society (Yerxa et al., 1989), then action must be a central part of understanding occupation. We believe it is fair to suggest that the edifice of occupational science is unstable until an adequate foundation of action theory is constructed. That is the challenge we seek to take up in this paper ˜the beginning of a rigorous development of that foundation of occupational science thought and thereby an essential part of occupational science’s continuing development. Because action theory is a diffuse area of knowledge crossing many centuries and disciplines, our coverage is by necessity selective. We utilize works by philosophers and social theorists primarily, and focus more on the work of John Dewey and Pierre Bourdieu than others. This bias is based on the compatible and complementary nature of the two theorists‚ work and the realization that their combined action theories provide a metatheoretical basis for usefully understanding and investigating occupation. Our focus also allows us to build on recent attempts to re-theorize occupation from a less individual-based orientation (Dickie, Cutchin, & Humphry, 2006) and extend and deepen that understanding with additional theoretical material. We begin the analysis with a summary assessment of occupational science’s position on action and related concepts. In that section, we suggest where weakness in occupational science exists vis-à-vis action and why those weaknesses need addressing now. From there, we begin the discussion on action theory. We structure our analysis into three phases, each focusing on a different key element of action theory: habit, context, and creativity. We conclude the argument with an example of occupation viewed through action theory, and we aim to explain in summary form what potential these particular action theories hold for occupational science. In the end a new definition of occupation is offered: occupation is a type of relational action through which habit, context, and creativity are coordinated toward a provisional yet particular meaningful outcome; the type of occupation is defined by the particular combination of habit, context, creativity, and provisional outcome.