Title

The Embodiment of Sensation through Occupation: A Sensory Perspective on Migration and Adaptation

Start Time

6-10-2012 8:30 AM

End Time

6-10-2012 9:00 AM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to conduct a qualitative exploration of the lived experience for Latinos immigrating and adjusting to life in the United States. This objective was attained through a 12 month ethnographic project with the Latino community in Smalltown (pseudonym), North Carolina. Data were gathered using participant observations, semi-structured interviews, document reviews, and administration of the Self-Discovery Tapestry (Meltzer, 2006). Nineteen migrants from Central and South America were interviewed. Participant observations occurred at Latino community events, Latino-owned businesses, and church events. Data were coded using qualitative analysis software and grouped into thematic families. Themes were verified and refined through additional interviews with study consultants. Consultants were study participants and played an active and influential role in co-creating study findings through a collaborative relationship.

Study participants noted differences in their sensory experiences during engagement in habitual occupations. They described differences in the smells, sounds, sights, tastes, and touch during their occupations in Smalltown. When participants encountered differences in expected sensations, their flow of engagement in occupation was interrupted. This disruption was accompanied by feelings of alienation, poor place integration, and social isolation. Latino migrants described sensory differences in contrast to past occupational engagements in their homelands. Their occupational histories founded expectations of what sensations should or should not accompany occupation. Findings suggest that through participation in occupation, individuals engage in somatic work/careers (Waskul & Vannini, 2008) and embody sensations as sensory expectations. These expectations affect experiences of meaning and wellbeing (Hinton et al., 2008) during, through and beyond occupation.

The findings of this study inform understandings of the development of occupation including how occupational histories impact its immediate experience. Findings also propose sensation as an integral part of occupation and associated wellbeing. They present occupation as the conduit to the embodiment of sensation. Implications for the future study of occupation and clinical applications to occupational therapy will be discussed.

Questions:

  1. Do you have examples of how occupational history can affect sensory perception?
  2. How does the embodiment of sensation via occupation impact cross-cultural communication?
  3. Do cross-cultural interventions using occupation risk cultural imperialism via imposition of aesthetic/sensory values?

References

Hinton, D. E., Howes, D., & Kirmayer, L. J. (2008). The medical anthropology of sensations. Transcultural Psychiatry, 45, 139-142 http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1363461508089762

Meltzer, P. J. (2006). The Self-Discovery Tapestry. Redondo Beach, CA: LifeCourse Publishing.

Waskul, D. D. & Vannini, P. (2008). Smell, odor, and somatic work: Sense-making and sensory management. Social Psychology Quarterly, 71(1), 53-71. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/019027250807100107

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Research paper

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Oct 6th, 8:30 AM Oct 6th, 9:00 AM

The Embodiment of Sensation through Occupation: A Sensory Perspective on Migration and Adaptation

The purpose of this study was to conduct a qualitative exploration of the lived experience for Latinos immigrating and adjusting to life in the United States. This objective was attained through a 12 month ethnographic project with the Latino community in Smalltown (pseudonym), North Carolina. Data were gathered using participant observations, semi-structured interviews, document reviews, and administration of the Self-Discovery Tapestry (Meltzer, 2006). Nineteen migrants from Central and South America were interviewed. Participant observations occurred at Latino community events, Latino-owned businesses, and church events. Data were coded using qualitative analysis software and grouped into thematic families. Themes were verified and refined through additional interviews with study consultants. Consultants were study participants and played an active and influential role in co-creating study findings through a collaborative relationship.

Study participants noted differences in their sensory experiences during engagement in habitual occupations. They described differences in the smells, sounds, sights, tastes, and touch during their occupations in Smalltown. When participants encountered differences in expected sensations, their flow of engagement in occupation was interrupted. This disruption was accompanied by feelings of alienation, poor place integration, and social isolation. Latino migrants described sensory differences in contrast to past occupational engagements in their homelands. Their occupational histories founded expectations of what sensations should or should not accompany occupation. Findings suggest that through participation in occupation, individuals engage in somatic work/careers (Waskul & Vannini, 2008) and embody sensations as sensory expectations. These expectations affect experiences of meaning and wellbeing (Hinton et al., 2008) during, through and beyond occupation.

The findings of this study inform understandings of the development of occupation including how occupational histories impact its immediate experience. Findings also propose sensation as an integral part of occupation and associated wellbeing. They present occupation as the conduit to the embodiment of sensation. Implications for the future study of occupation and clinical applications to occupational therapy will be discussed.

Questions:

  1. Do you have examples of how occupational history can affect sensory perception?
  2. How does the embodiment of sensation via occupation impact cross-cultural communication?
  3. Do cross-cultural interventions using occupation risk cultural imperialism via imposition of aesthetic/sensory values?