Title

‘Aging drivers, are you at risk?’ Governing occupation through constructions of risk

Location

Room B

Start Time

18-10-2013 2:40 PM

End Time

18-10-2013 3:10 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

In this study, the case of the aging driver was chosen to further understanding of how risk is taken up to shape everyday occupation, and how risk is taken up in discourses to constitute particular subjectivities and their occupational possibilities (Laliberte Rudman, 2010). In many Western countries, experts predict a ‘grey Tsunami’ that will ‘over flood’ societies and have devastating impacts on social and individual security if governments and individuals do not proactively prepare for the risk of an anticipated aging population. In this context, the occupation ‘driving in later life’ has come to be problematized and is gaining attention. In an auto-centered society, such as Canada (Rothe, 1990), driving represents a taken-for-granted, powerful everyday occupation. Thus, the case of the aging driver was chosen to contribute to the understanding of how risk is taken up in a particular discourse (the ‘older driver problem’), to govern a specific occupation (‘driving’) and to form an occupational subjectivity (‘the aging driver’).

The study represents a governmentality-informed critical discourse analysis (CDA) (Hardy & Phillips, 2004; Wodak & Meyer, 2009) of information brochures targeting aging drivers and their families in Canada. The textual sample consisted of 24 information brochures, published by a variety of institutions and organizations, and publically accessible in the year 2010. Drawing upon governmentality as an analytical lens, data analysis focused on how risk as a rationality and technology was employed to construct the occupation of driving in later life and the related occupational subjectivity of the aging driver.

Results showed that brochures incorporated a particular rhetorical structure and risk logic that served to construct the occupation as a site of governing. Distinct discursive techniques, such as using opposing adjectives, were employed to privilege an ideal occupational subjectivity. The risks of the occupation driving in later life were located in the aging body which was constructed as ultimately incommensurate with this occupation. In the analyzed discourse, a risk was deployed to shape a taken-for granted, everyday occupation in ways that individualizes and de-contextualizes this occupation and downloads responsibility for one’s opportunities to engage in occupation to individuals. As well, taking care of oneself and others was constructed as engaging in specific occupations through which an ideal subjectivity can be enacted and worked towards.

This CDA raises concerns related to how occupational possibilities might be shaped ‘in the name of risk’ and what effects this might have in reinforcing political rationalities, current power relations and occupational inequalities. The study supports the importance of critically attending to how risk is taken up to problematize occupation in research and education. It provides an example for the value of critical discourse analysis in occupation-based research and empathizes why furthering critical reflexivity in occupational science education is essential in enabling contextual professional practices and future research. Taking concepts such as risk for granted when generating, teaching, and applying occupation-based knowledge might undermine the potential of occupational science and, despite best intentions, unwillingly perpetuate dominant social practices that produce occupational inequalities.

Keywords: risk, occupational possibilities, aging driver

References

Hardy, C., & Phillips, N. (2004). Discourse and power. In D. Grant, C. Hardy, C. Oswick & L. Putnam (Eds.), The sage handbook of organizational discourse (pp. 299-316). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Laliberte Rudman, D. (2010). Occupational possibilities. Journal of Occupational Science, 17(1), 55-59.

Rothe, J. P. (Ed.). (1990). Challenging the old order: Towards new directions in traffic safety theory. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers.

Wodak, R., & Meyer, M. (2009). Critical discourse analysis: History, agenda, theory and methdology. In R. Wodak & M. Meyer (Eds.), Methods of critical discourse analysis (pp. 1-33). Thousand, CA: Sage.

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Oct 18th, 2:40 PM Oct 18th, 3:10 PM

‘Aging drivers, are you at risk?’ Governing occupation through constructions of risk

Room B

In this study, the case of the aging driver was chosen to further understanding of how risk is taken up to shape everyday occupation, and how risk is taken up in discourses to constitute particular subjectivities and their occupational possibilities (Laliberte Rudman, 2010). In many Western countries, experts predict a ‘grey Tsunami’ that will ‘over flood’ societies and have devastating impacts on social and individual security if governments and individuals do not proactively prepare for the risk of an anticipated aging population. In this context, the occupation ‘driving in later life’ has come to be problematized and is gaining attention. In an auto-centered society, such as Canada (Rothe, 1990), driving represents a taken-for-granted, powerful everyday occupation. Thus, the case of the aging driver was chosen to contribute to the understanding of how risk is taken up in a particular discourse (the ‘older driver problem’), to govern a specific occupation (‘driving’) and to form an occupational subjectivity (‘the aging driver’).

The study represents a governmentality-informed critical discourse analysis (CDA) (Hardy & Phillips, 2004; Wodak & Meyer, 2009) of information brochures targeting aging drivers and their families in Canada. The textual sample consisted of 24 information brochures, published by a variety of institutions and organizations, and publically accessible in the year 2010. Drawing upon governmentality as an analytical lens, data analysis focused on how risk as a rationality and technology was employed to construct the occupation of driving in later life and the related occupational subjectivity of the aging driver.

Results showed that brochures incorporated a particular rhetorical structure and risk logic that served to construct the occupation as a site of governing. Distinct discursive techniques, such as using opposing adjectives, were employed to privilege an ideal occupational subjectivity. The risks of the occupation driving in later life were located in the aging body which was constructed as ultimately incommensurate with this occupation. In the analyzed discourse, a risk was deployed to shape a taken-for granted, everyday occupation in ways that individualizes and de-contextualizes this occupation and downloads responsibility for one’s opportunities to engage in occupation to individuals. As well, taking care of oneself and others was constructed as engaging in specific occupations through which an ideal subjectivity can be enacted and worked towards.

This CDA raises concerns related to how occupational possibilities might be shaped ‘in the name of risk’ and what effects this might have in reinforcing political rationalities, current power relations and occupational inequalities. The study supports the importance of critically attending to how risk is taken up to problematize occupation in research and education. It provides an example for the value of critical discourse analysis in occupation-based research and empathizes why furthering critical reflexivity in occupational science education is essential in enabling contextual professional practices and future research. Taking concepts such as risk for granted when generating, teaching, and applying occupation-based knowledge might undermine the potential of occupational science and, despite best intentions, unwillingly perpetuate dominant social practices that produce occupational inequalities.

Keywords: risk, occupational possibilities, aging driver