Title

Collective occupations as a way of fostering a sense of citizenship: Looking for meaningful connections between theories and practices in community development – a German perspective

Location

Rock Island

Start Time

17-10-2014 11:05 AM

End Time

17-10-2014 11:35 AM

Session Type

Theoretical Paper

Abstract

Background and Rationale: In Germany, as in other European countries, a new interest in community development as an approach in health care has led to increased attention regarding the importance of collective occupations. So far, occupation-based initiatives in Europe seem to predominantly limit the role of occupation to its positive influence on health and well-being. The potential of occupation as a medium of social transformation in community development awaits further exploration. Statement of Intent: In this paper, we discuss the potential role of collective occupations in fostering pluralistic, diverse and inclusive communities based on a critical awareness of existing power structures within societies. We draw upon an exploration of existing theoretical approaches and practical experiences gained from a community development project focussing on urban gardening in a low SES neighbourhood in Germany. Argument: Approaches to community development frequently refer to discourses of citizenship (ENOTE, 2013). Notions of ‘citizenship’ are linked with questions of identification and commitment, as well as questions of social rights. According to Mitchell (2003) rights are dependent on people’s capacity for doing, for claiming public space. Urban gardening is an occupation that connects the appropriation of space by transforming and shaping public areas with the doing of collective occupations. Common approaches of community often assume a homogeneity of values and standards and a shared and common sense of identity (Shaw, 2008). Instead, arguably the most significant feature of living and doing together in community in a contemporary democratic society is (learning) to deal with pluralism and diversity and negotiating difference, conflict and dissent (Mouffe2000). Conclusions: An exploration of the transformative potential of collective occupations needs to be based on the lived realities in the neighbourhoods concerned, referring to the world as it is, but at the same time critically analysing these realities in terms of injustices and disempowering roles and relationships. Occupational science, located interdisciplinary and internationally has great potential for the use of occupation as a means for social transformation. In connecting global experiences about current approaches, much can be learned. Projects should be developed within their unique practical and theoretical contexts and in making meaningful connections with similar practices in other areas of a globalized world, such as those e.g. in Brazil, South-Africa or the UK.

Key words: Collective occupations, community development, citizenship

References

ENOTHE (European Network of Occupational Therapy in Higher Education) (2013). Citizenship: Exploring the contribution of occupational therapy. Retrieved November 18, 2013 from http://www.enothe.eu/activities/meet/ac13/CITIZENSHIP_STATEMENT_ENGLISH.pdf

Mitchell, D. (2003). The right to the city: Social justice and the fight for public pace. New York: Guilford Press

Mouffe, C. (2000). The democratic paradox. London: Verso.

Shaw, M. (2008), Community development and the politics of community. Community Development Journal, 43(1), 24-36.

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Oct 17th, 11:05 AM Oct 17th, 11:35 AM

Collective occupations as a way of fostering a sense of citizenship: Looking for meaningful connections between theories and practices in community development – a German perspective

Rock Island

Background and Rationale: In Germany, as in other European countries, a new interest in community development as an approach in health care has led to increased attention regarding the importance of collective occupations. So far, occupation-based initiatives in Europe seem to predominantly limit the role of occupation to its positive influence on health and well-being. The potential of occupation as a medium of social transformation in community development awaits further exploration. Statement of Intent: In this paper, we discuss the potential role of collective occupations in fostering pluralistic, diverse and inclusive communities based on a critical awareness of existing power structures within societies. We draw upon an exploration of existing theoretical approaches and practical experiences gained from a community development project focussing on urban gardening in a low SES neighbourhood in Germany. Argument: Approaches to community development frequently refer to discourses of citizenship (ENOTE, 2013). Notions of ‘citizenship’ are linked with questions of identification and commitment, as well as questions of social rights. According to Mitchell (2003) rights are dependent on people’s capacity for doing, for claiming public space. Urban gardening is an occupation that connects the appropriation of space by transforming and shaping public areas with the doing of collective occupations. Common approaches of community often assume a homogeneity of values and standards and a shared and common sense of identity (Shaw, 2008). Instead, arguably the most significant feature of living and doing together in community in a contemporary democratic society is (learning) to deal with pluralism and diversity and negotiating difference, conflict and dissent (Mouffe2000). Conclusions: An exploration of the transformative potential of collective occupations needs to be based on the lived realities in the neighbourhoods concerned, referring to the world as it is, but at the same time critically analysing these realities in terms of injustices and disempowering roles and relationships. Occupational science, located interdisciplinary and internationally has great potential for the use of occupation as a means for social transformation. In connecting global experiences about current approaches, much can be learned. Projects should be developed within their unique practical and theoretical contexts and in making meaningful connections with similar practices in other areas of a globalized world, such as those e.g. in Brazil, South-Africa or the UK.

Key words: Collective occupations, community development, citizenship