Title

Improvisational theater and insights into the transactional nature of habit

Start Time

22-10-2011 2:35 PM

End Time

22-10-2011 3:05 PM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

This paper serves to further develop the literature on habit and advocate for focused research on the role of habit in occupation. The philosopher John Dewey defined habit as “an acquired predisposition to ways or modes of response” (Cutchin, 2007, p.51S). Modes of response can include actions, behaviors, meaning making, or thoughts. Dewey also emphasized the co-constitutive nature of experience, and that habit reflects this through the pre-conscious ways of acting in the world. Various authors have acknowledged recently that Dewey's transactional perspective is applicable toward the study of occupation. Furthermore there has been increasing attention on the transactional nature of habit in occupation. An improvisational theater class was used as a case study to investigate the transactional nature of habit based on Dewey's transactional perspective. Ethnographic methods including interviews, audio recordings of classes, field notes, and participant observation were used during weekly sessions over a thirteen week period. The study of improvisation as an occupation revealed rich understandings of the role of habit in occupation in its various manifestations: how participants embodied habitual ways of being in the material world, how habit constituted the fabric of function, how habit allowed for shared meaning making, and the difficulty of habit modification and change. Habitual ways of being in the material world were brought to the “de-contextualized” stage and used to recreate meaningful situations where no structure existed. Habits were the building blocks of continuity and trans-active experience allowing for relationship formation, and continuity of action to create socially definable events for the audience. The transactional nature of habit served to bring underdetermined situations to determinacy. Meaning on stage evolved through space and time from the transactions between individuals, the audience, and the symbolic space on stage. In conclusion, I suggest that the study of human occupation is incomplete without an acknowledgment of the habitual ways of being in the world that influence the “who, what, when, where, and why” of the ways in which we participate in occupations. Recommendations are made for the study of habit in occupation including research on how to: elicit habits, identify them, utilize strengths-weaknesses, and identify places that support engagement in occupation based on habit.

Objectives for the discussion period:

  1. To engage in scholarly dialogue, focusing on the real life applicability and study of habit in occupation from the transactional theoretical perspective thus moving from concepts to application.
  2. Discussion of aspects of habit and how they can be described as contributing to the occupations we study.
  3. Dialogue on the continued study of habit as an integral component of occupation.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do we progress the study of habit from conceptual to applicable?
  2. How do we describe habits and their role in occupations?
  3. If habits develop through transactional relationships how are they altered?
  4. How does knowledge of one’s habitual ways of being in the world help to support/inhibit engagement in occupation?
  5. What are the “who, what, when, where, and why” that interface to create the foundations for habitual ways of being in the world?
  6. Are occupations simply artifacts of our habitual ways of being in the world?

References

Cutchin, M. P. (2007). From society to self (and back) through place: Habit in transactional context. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 27, 50S-59S.

Cutchin, M. P., Aldrich, R. M., Bailliard, A. L., & Coppola, S. (2008). Action theories for occupational science: The contributions of dewey and bourdieu. Journal of Occupational Science, 15(3), 157-165. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2008.9686625

Fesmire, S. (2003). John dewey and moral imagination: Pragmatism in ethics. Bloomington I.N.: Indiana University Press.

Kestenbaum, V. (1977). The phenomenological sense of john dewey : Habit and meaning. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press.

Yerxa, E. (2002). Habits in Context: A synthesis with implications for research in occupational science. The Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, 22, 104S-110S.

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Theoretical paper

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Oct 22nd, 2:35 PM Oct 22nd, 3:05 PM

Improvisational theater and insights into the transactional nature of habit

This paper serves to further develop the literature on habit and advocate for focused research on the role of habit in occupation. The philosopher John Dewey defined habit as “an acquired predisposition to ways or modes of response” (Cutchin, 2007, p.51S). Modes of response can include actions, behaviors, meaning making, or thoughts. Dewey also emphasized the co-constitutive nature of experience, and that habit reflects this through the pre-conscious ways of acting in the world. Various authors have acknowledged recently that Dewey's transactional perspective is applicable toward the study of occupation. Furthermore there has been increasing attention on the transactional nature of habit in occupation. An improvisational theater class was used as a case study to investigate the transactional nature of habit based on Dewey's transactional perspective. Ethnographic methods including interviews, audio recordings of classes, field notes, and participant observation were used during weekly sessions over a thirteen week period. The study of improvisation as an occupation revealed rich understandings of the role of habit in occupation in its various manifestations: how participants embodied habitual ways of being in the material world, how habit constituted the fabric of function, how habit allowed for shared meaning making, and the difficulty of habit modification and change. Habitual ways of being in the material world were brought to the “de-contextualized” stage and used to recreate meaningful situations where no structure existed. Habits were the building blocks of continuity and trans-active experience allowing for relationship formation, and continuity of action to create socially definable events for the audience. The transactional nature of habit served to bring underdetermined situations to determinacy. Meaning on stage evolved through space and time from the transactions between individuals, the audience, and the symbolic space on stage. In conclusion, I suggest that the study of human occupation is incomplete without an acknowledgment of the habitual ways of being in the world that influence the “who, what, when, where, and why” of the ways in which we participate in occupations. Recommendations are made for the study of habit in occupation including research on how to: elicit habits, identify them, utilize strengths-weaknesses, and identify places that support engagement in occupation based on habit.

Objectives for the discussion period:

  1. To engage in scholarly dialogue, focusing on the real life applicability and study of habit in occupation from the transactional theoretical perspective thus moving from concepts to application.
  2. Discussion of aspects of habit and how they can be described as contributing to the occupations we study.
  3. Dialogue on the continued study of habit as an integral component of occupation.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do we progress the study of habit from conceptual to applicable?
  2. How do we describe habits and their role in occupations?
  3. If habits develop through transactional relationships how are they altered?
  4. How does knowledge of one’s habitual ways of being in the world help to support/inhibit engagement in occupation?
  5. What are the “who, what, when, where, and why” that interface to create the foundations for habitual ways of being in the world?
  6. Are occupations simply artifacts of our habitual ways of being in the world?