Title

What is Occupational Justice? Could it change the world?

Start Time

21-10-2011 1:35 PM

End Time

21-10-2011 2:05 PM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

‘Occupational justice’ (Stadnyk, Townsend & Wilcock, 2010) is an emerging concept in occupational therapy and occupational science based on the growing body of evidence suggesting participation in occupations as intrinsically linked to one’s health (Christiansen & Townsend, 2010; Law, Steinwender & LeClair, 1998). The aim of this theoretical paper is to review and critique how occupational justice is conceptualized in the literature to date. I begin by presenting the results of a scoping review of the literature that examines how ‘occupational justice’ and related terms of occupational injustice including: occupational apartheid, occupational deprivation, occupational marginalization, occupational alienation and occupational imbalance (Kronenberg & Pollard, 2005; Stadnyk, Townsend & Wilcock, 2010; Whiteford, 2010) are conceptualized. I argue that the development and implementation of occupationally just healthcare policies and practices could revolutionize the provision of health care, and have the potential to both decrease healthcare costs and improve the quality of life of its recipients. Before this can become a reality, however, barriers must be overcome. I therefore continue with a critique of occupational justice, claiming first that within the fields of social science, occupational science and occupational therapy, the concept of occupational justice lacks consistency. The resulting incongruities impede the concept’s applicability, use and growth within occupational therapy practice. I further contend that the concept’s lack of cohesion and our neglect to engage other professions in discussions about occupational justice have hindered the concept’s development, and have obstructed its understanding and acceptance by the broader community of healthcare providers and policy-makers. Finally, I argue that conceptions of occupational justice touch on concepts of autonomy and justice, but that use of these concepts is simplistic. Theories of occupational justice would greatly benefit from contributions from the field of bioethics where there is a substantial body of theoretical work related to these concepts. Occupationally just health care would benefit all individuals having an interest in health care today, but additional work needs to be done to engage the expertise of various healthcare professions, to further develop concepts and theories of occupational justice, and to develop occupationally just health care practices, policies and services.

Objectives for discussion period:

  1. To discuss audience members’ understanding and use of occupational justice in research or clinical practice
  2. To discuss the critique of the concept - The literature on which it is based is from different countries, but does the critique resonate with members of an international audience?
  3. To discuss perspectives of audience members regarding moving this concept forward - Is this feasible within the fields of occupational science and occupational therapy? Is this realistic in the broader health care arena?

References

Christiansen, C. & Townsend, E. (2010). An introduction to occupation. In C. Christiansen, & E. Townsend (Eds.) Introduction to occupation the art and science of living (2nd Ed.) New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc. (p. 329-358)

Law, M., Steinwender & LeClair, L. (1998). Occupation, health and well-being. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy. 65(2) pp. 81-91

Kronenberg, F., & Pollard, N. (2005). Overcoming occupational apartheid: A preliminary exploration of the political nature of occupational therapy. In F. Kronenberg, S. S. Algado, & N. Pollard (Eds.), Occupational therapy without borders: Learning from the spirit of survivors (pp. 58-86). Toronto: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.

Stadnyk, R., Townsend, E. & Wilcock, A. (2010). Occupational Justice. In C. Christiansen, & E. Townsend (Eds.) Introduction to occupation the art and science of living (2nd Ed.) New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc. (p. 329-358)

Whiteford, G. (2010). Occupational deprivation: understanding limited participation. In C. Christiansen, & E. Townsend (Eds.) Introduction to occupation the art and science of living (2nd Ed.) New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc. (p. 303-328)

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Theoretical paper

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Oct 21st, 1:35 PM Oct 21st, 2:05 PM

What is Occupational Justice? Could it change the world?

‘Occupational justice’ (Stadnyk, Townsend & Wilcock, 2010) is an emerging concept in occupational therapy and occupational science based on the growing body of evidence suggesting participation in occupations as intrinsically linked to one’s health (Christiansen & Townsend, 2010; Law, Steinwender & LeClair, 1998). The aim of this theoretical paper is to review and critique how occupational justice is conceptualized in the literature to date. I begin by presenting the results of a scoping review of the literature that examines how ‘occupational justice’ and related terms of occupational injustice including: occupational apartheid, occupational deprivation, occupational marginalization, occupational alienation and occupational imbalance (Kronenberg & Pollard, 2005; Stadnyk, Townsend & Wilcock, 2010; Whiteford, 2010) are conceptualized. I argue that the development and implementation of occupationally just healthcare policies and practices could revolutionize the provision of health care, and have the potential to both decrease healthcare costs and improve the quality of life of its recipients. Before this can become a reality, however, barriers must be overcome. I therefore continue with a critique of occupational justice, claiming first that within the fields of social science, occupational science and occupational therapy, the concept of occupational justice lacks consistency. The resulting incongruities impede the concept’s applicability, use and growth within occupational therapy practice. I further contend that the concept’s lack of cohesion and our neglect to engage other professions in discussions about occupational justice have hindered the concept’s development, and have obstructed its understanding and acceptance by the broader community of healthcare providers and policy-makers. Finally, I argue that conceptions of occupational justice touch on concepts of autonomy and justice, but that use of these concepts is simplistic. Theories of occupational justice would greatly benefit from contributions from the field of bioethics where there is a substantial body of theoretical work related to these concepts. Occupationally just health care would benefit all individuals having an interest in health care today, but additional work needs to be done to engage the expertise of various healthcare professions, to further develop concepts and theories of occupational justice, and to develop occupationally just health care practices, policies and services.

Objectives for discussion period:

  1. To discuss audience members’ understanding and use of occupational justice in research or clinical practice
  2. To discuss the critique of the concept - The literature on which it is based is from different countries, but does the critique resonate with members of an international audience?
  3. To discuss perspectives of audience members regarding moving this concept forward - Is this feasible within the fields of occupational science and occupational therapy? Is this realistic in the broader health care arena?