Title

The Contingency of Occupation: Connecting Rorty’s Pragmatism to Narrative Theory and Methods

Location

Hiawatha 1

Start Time

17-10-2014 11:40 AM

End Time

17-10-2014 12:10 PM

Session Type

Theoretical Paper

Abstract

A movement within the social sciences often described as the “narrative turn” has made an important contribution to occupational science. Narratives in the simplest sense are stories that are used by individuals to organize meaning and experience. In occupational science, narrative has been used as a phenomenology for analyzing various situations and cultures (Bonsall, 2012). Rorty’s publications on the contingency of self and culture serves as one of the influences that has made the narrative turn possible (Bruner, 1990). Rorty (1979) argues objectivity should be viewed not as a representation of external reality, but as an agreed upon result of past and present arguments. For instance, defining objectivity as social agreement, the practice of science invents “descriptions of the world which are useful for purposes of prediction and controlling what happens” (Rorty, 1989, p. 4). However, these descriptions of the world are contingent descriptions, not representations of the world itself.

This paper will explore the theoretical overlap between Rorty’s pragmatism and narrative, ultimately relating his influence back to occupational science. I will focus on three areas particularly important for narrative in occupational science using my own research, an ethnographic study of the experiences of fathers of children with disabilities, to illustrate and support these arguments. First, narratives shape worldviews that influence understanding through the creation of public vocabularies. Second, selves are created through the emergence of personal narratives. The exploration of narrative action within occupational science adds further insight into Rorty’s description of self-creation through narrative. Third, narrative can be seen as a methodology utilized for analyzing what Rorty calls abnormal discourse that challenges existing norms. Revolutionary vocabularies arise when two vocabularies clash, resulting in a third. For instance, within my research discourse that emerged around masculinity, fatherhood, and disability served to challenge social norms that did not fit the realities of practice.

This paper contributes to occupational science by applying Rorty’s pragmatism to the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of narrative. The examination of public, private, and abnormal vocabularies provides insight into the construction of meaningful occupations. In addition, this paper explores on the importance of methodologies that study abnormal discourses that have the potential to change societies.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Oct 17th, 11:40 AM Oct 17th, 12:10 PM

The Contingency of Occupation: Connecting Rorty’s Pragmatism to Narrative Theory and Methods

Hiawatha 1

A movement within the social sciences often described as the “narrative turn” has made an important contribution to occupational science. Narratives in the simplest sense are stories that are used by individuals to organize meaning and experience. In occupational science, narrative has been used as a phenomenology for analyzing various situations and cultures (Bonsall, 2012). Rorty’s publications on the contingency of self and culture serves as one of the influences that has made the narrative turn possible (Bruner, 1990). Rorty (1979) argues objectivity should be viewed not as a representation of external reality, but as an agreed upon result of past and present arguments. For instance, defining objectivity as social agreement, the practice of science invents “descriptions of the world which are useful for purposes of prediction and controlling what happens” (Rorty, 1989, p. 4). However, these descriptions of the world are contingent descriptions, not representations of the world itself.

This paper will explore the theoretical overlap between Rorty’s pragmatism and narrative, ultimately relating his influence back to occupational science. I will focus on three areas particularly important for narrative in occupational science using my own research, an ethnographic study of the experiences of fathers of children with disabilities, to illustrate and support these arguments. First, narratives shape worldviews that influence understanding through the creation of public vocabularies. Second, selves are created through the emergence of personal narratives. The exploration of narrative action within occupational science adds further insight into Rorty’s description of self-creation through narrative. Third, narrative can be seen as a methodology utilized for analyzing what Rorty calls abnormal discourse that challenges existing norms. Revolutionary vocabularies arise when two vocabularies clash, resulting in a third. For instance, within my research discourse that emerged around masculinity, fatherhood, and disability served to challenge social norms that did not fit the realities of practice.

This paper contributes to occupational science by applying Rorty’s pragmatism to the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of narrative. The examination of public, private, and abnormal vocabularies provides insight into the construction of meaningful occupations. In addition, this paper explores on the importance of methodologies that study abnormal discourses that have the potential to change societies.