Socio-cultural discourses and the shaping of childhood occupations: A reflexive case study

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Abstract

Introduction:

Social inclusion “can be described as being centrally concerned with people and populations having opportunities to participate in society and to enact their rights of citizenship in everyday life” (Pereira & Whiteford, 2012). It is well established in the literature that children with disabilities are at risk for limited opportunities to participate in childhood activities. Limited participation may negatively impact children’s experiences of health, well-being, participation, and inclusion.

Objective:

The primary objective of this research was to investigate how socio-cultural factors, with a particular emphasis on analysis of discourses, are implicated in opportunities to participate in childhood occupations for children with physical disabilities.

Methods:

Reflexive case study methodology (Alvesson & Sköldberg, 2009; Stake, 2006) was employed. Six children between the ages 10 to 12 with a physical disability, and five parents participated. Methods included: Pediatric Activity Card Sort assessment (Mandich et al., 2004), photo-elicitation interviews with children, and semi-structured interviews with children and parents. Analysis involved the use of concept maps (Burgess-Allen & Owen-Smith, 2010) and drew upon discourse analysis techniques (Crowe, 2000; Kuper, Whitehead, & Hodges, 2013).

Results:

Five conceptual categories were identified that represent socio-cultural discourses implicated in shaping opportunities to participate in childhood activities: Being just like everyone else; Risk, safety, and protection; Because it’s good for you; Perceptions of disability; and Negotiating independence and dependence.

Conclusions:

Social exclusion is a pressing issue, particularly with respect to children with disabilities being excluded from public policy frameworks, definitions of ‘healthy’ child development, and community living (Luxton, 2002). The findings reveal how discourses may unintentionally shape the way we think about disability and children’s opportunities for participation and inclusion in childhood occupations. Awareness of such discourses, and the ways in which they constrain and/or enable engagement in childhood occupations, are of relevance to occupational scientists interested in advancing understanding of children’s occupations, participation, and inclusion. Understanding the potential role of discourses in the shaping of childhood occupations may assist health care professionals, education professionals, policy makers, and parents, in thinking about how to facilitate opportunities for children’s participation and inclusion in home, school, and community environments.

Key Words: Children, Participation, Inclusion

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

Socio-cultural discourses and the shaping of childhood occupations: A reflexive case study

Charles Frost

Introduction:

Social inclusion “can be described as being centrally concerned with people and populations having opportunities to participate in society and to enact their rights of citizenship in everyday life” (Pereira & Whiteford, 2012). It is well established in the literature that children with disabilities are at risk for limited opportunities to participate in childhood activities. Limited participation may negatively impact children’s experiences of health, well-being, participation, and inclusion.

Objective:

The primary objective of this research was to investigate how socio-cultural factors, with a particular emphasis on analysis of discourses, are implicated in opportunities to participate in childhood occupations for children with physical disabilities.

Methods:

Reflexive case study methodology (Alvesson & Sköldberg, 2009; Stake, 2006) was employed. Six children between the ages 10 to 12 with a physical disability, and five parents participated. Methods included: Pediatric Activity Card Sort assessment (Mandich et al., 2004), photo-elicitation interviews with children, and semi-structured interviews with children and parents. Analysis involved the use of concept maps (Burgess-Allen & Owen-Smith, 2010) and drew upon discourse analysis techniques (Crowe, 2000; Kuper, Whitehead, & Hodges, 2013).

Results:

Five conceptual categories were identified that represent socio-cultural discourses implicated in shaping opportunities to participate in childhood activities: Being just like everyone else; Risk, safety, and protection; Because it’s good for you; Perceptions of disability; and Negotiating independence and dependence.

Conclusions:

Social exclusion is a pressing issue, particularly with respect to children with disabilities being excluded from public policy frameworks, definitions of ‘healthy’ child development, and community living (Luxton, 2002). The findings reveal how discourses may unintentionally shape the way we think about disability and children’s opportunities for participation and inclusion in childhood occupations. Awareness of such discourses, and the ways in which they constrain and/or enable engagement in childhood occupations, are of relevance to occupational scientists interested in advancing understanding of children’s occupations, participation, and inclusion. Understanding the potential role of discourses in the shaping of childhood occupations may assist health care professionals, education professionals, policy makers, and parents, in thinking about how to facilitate opportunities for children’s participation and inclusion in home, school, and community environments.

Key Words: Children, Participation, Inclusion