Title

Occupation as situated: Recognizing the influence of social power relations

Start Time

5-10-2012 9:45 AM

End Time

5-10-2012 10:15 AM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

We argue in this presentation that occupational scientists must pay increased attention to the complex ways that occupations are always situated within specific socio-historical contexts. We put forth a particular theoretical perspective to illustrate the ways in which social power relations can impact upon people’s occupational possibilities. Specifically, we delineate concepts from Bourdieu’s (1970, 1993) critically located social theory of practice to illustrate how occupations are always politically, socially, culturally and historically situated. This theoretical lens emphasizes the productive nature of power and how its enactment differentially shapes what people and collectives come to take for granted regarding what they themselves and others should do (Laliberte Rudman & Huot, 2012).

An example drawn from Huot’s (2011) doctoral research will be used to highlight the applicability of this lens. The aim of the research was to raise awareness of the structural barriers faced by immigrants in enacting their daily occupations and negotiating their identities within new places, particularly according to the intersecting markers of language, race and gender. Findings highlight how the embodied nature of immigrants’ habitus and forms of capital can serve as a mechanism of exclusion for newcomers within a host society, in part because they may be perceived as not only looking differently than the mainstream population, but also as doing differently.

The notion of ‘doing identity in place’ (Huot & Laliberte Rudman, 2010) was developed to conceptualize the relationship between occupation, identity and place by emphasizing the importance for identity of everyday doing, in interaction with others, located within particular places. It signals that the ways in which people ‘do’ their identities both influence, and are influenced by, people’s occupations, and by the places where these occur. Within this relationship, it is essential to consider the intersectionality of people’s identity markers. This is not simply because people identify and are identified according to multiple markers, but also because they may face challenges and even discrimination in relation to these, resulting in a compounding of oppressions. We argue that this theoretical lens can be applied to develop a more complex understanding of the situated nature of occupation and contribute to social change aimed at creating more equitable possibilities for occupation.

Potential questions for the discussion period:

  1. How can this theoretical lens be incorporated with others, such as Dewey’s pragmatism or Goffman’s performance, to draw attention to the role of power in social interactions?
  2. How can this theoretical lens be applied to human experiences and occupations besides international migration?
  3. How can Bourdieu’s seminal concepts be reinterpreted in a contemporary context to draw on more recent understandings of occupation, identity and power?
  4. What other specific examples can be drawn from the authors’ research to illustrate the applicability of this particular lens?

References

Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice. London: Cambridge University Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1993). Structures, habitus, power: Basis for a theory of symbolic power. In N. B. Dirks, G. Eley, & S. B. Ortner (Eds.), Culture, power, history: a reader in contemporary social theory (155-199). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Huot, S. (2011). Critically exploring the challenges of successful integration for French-speaking newcomers from visible minority groups within London, Ontario’s Francophone minority community. Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. Paper 112. http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/etd/112

Huot, S., & Laliberte Rudman, D. (2010). The performances and places of identity: Conceptualizing intersections of occupation, identity and place in the process of migration. Journal of Occupational Science, 17(2), 68-77. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2010.9686677

Laliberte Rudman, D., & Huot, S. (In press). Conceptual insights for expanding thinking regarding the situated nature of occupation. In M. P. Cutchin & V. A. Dickie (Eds.), Rethinking Occupation: Transactional Perspectives on Doing. Springer.

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Theoretical paper

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Oct 5th, 9:45 AM Oct 5th, 10:15 AM

Occupation as situated: Recognizing the influence of social power relations

We argue in this presentation that occupational scientists must pay increased attention to the complex ways that occupations are always situated within specific socio-historical contexts. We put forth a particular theoretical perspective to illustrate the ways in which social power relations can impact upon people’s occupational possibilities. Specifically, we delineate concepts from Bourdieu’s (1970, 1993) critically located social theory of practice to illustrate how occupations are always politically, socially, culturally and historically situated. This theoretical lens emphasizes the productive nature of power and how its enactment differentially shapes what people and collectives come to take for granted regarding what they themselves and others should do (Laliberte Rudman & Huot, 2012).

An example drawn from Huot’s (2011) doctoral research will be used to highlight the applicability of this lens. The aim of the research was to raise awareness of the structural barriers faced by immigrants in enacting their daily occupations and negotiating their identities within new places, particularly according to the intersecting markers of language, race and gender. Findings highlight how the embodied nature of immigrants’ habitus and forms of capital can serve as a mechanism of exclusion for newcomers within a host society, in part because they may be perceived as not only looking differently than the mainstream population, but also as doing differently.

The notion of ‘doing identity in place’ (Huot & Laliberte Rudman, 2010) was developed to conceptualize the relationship between occupation, identity and place by emphasizing the importance for identity of everyday doing, in interaction with others, located within particular places. It signals that the ways in which people ‘do’ their identities both influence, and are influenced by, people’s occupations, and by the places where these occur. Within this relationship, it is essential to consider the intersectionality of people’s identity markers. This is not simply because people identify and are identified according to multiple markers, but also because they may face challenges and even discrimination in relation to these, resulting in a compounding of oppressions. We argue that this theoretical lens can be applied to develop a more complex understanding of the situated nature of occupation and contribute to social change aimed at creating more equitable possibilities for occupation.

Potential questions for the discussion period:

  1. How can this theoretical lens be incorporated with others, such as Dewey’s pragmatism or Goffman’s performance, to draw attention to the role of power in social interactions?
  2. How can this theoretical lens be applied to human experiences and occupations besides international migration?
  3. How can Bourdieu’s seminal concepts be reinterpreted in a contemporary context to draw on more recent understandings of occupation, identity and power?
  4. What other specific examples can be drawn from the authors’ research to illustrate the applicability of this particular lens?