Title

Meaningful connections between disciplines: The occupation of parenting from a life course perspective

Location

Hiawatha 2

Start Time

18-10-2014 11:05 AM

End Time

18-10-2014 11:35 AM

Session Type

Theoretical Paper

Abstract

The current focus of occupational science is closely tied to self-action. In many instances, the definition has been extended to include inter-action, a sort of reciprocal engagement between an individual and his/her environment or another individual. However, some scholars have critiqued this individualistic approach toward occupation and presented a case for a more deliberate inclusion of social and cultural contexts within the study of occupation. When studying the occupations of children, it then becomes important to study the family as a whole in order to include social and cultural components of daily life. Although occupational therapy practitioners have highlighted the importance of the family, the unique occupation of parenting has received much less attention by occupational scientists and therapists alike. Where included, mothering has been studied either as a co-occupation or as co-creating experiences in order to describe shared occupations of parent and child. However, family routines and rituals have been given much more importance, and the process and experience of parenting as a socially embedded occupation has not been studied.

In order to understand the social and cultural existence of families, this paper presents life course sociology as an opportunity to study the occupation of parenting in a holistic manner. The life course perspective as a concept describes a sequence of age-graded roles, which are a consequence of opportunities, expectations and limitations. Expectations are typically decided by societal norms and structure the life course. Thus, the life course perspective as a paradigm examines situations holistically, taking into account concepts like social roles, historical contexts, institutions such as education and family, linked lives, timing of events, and human agency, to mention a few. For the purpose of this argument, three distinct life course concepts will be highlighted as potential starting points to study the occupation of parenting. First, to illustrate the additive or leveling effects of adverse or favorable situations, cumulative advantage/disadvantage will be explored. Next, in order to examine parenting roles in the contexts of other roles, the concept of pathways will be described. Finally, to make an argument for comprehensive data collection pertaining to the history and lineage of parenting practices, the importance of intergenerational/multigenerational studies will be highlighted. In conclusion, the implications for occupational science and therapy as well as methodological implications for the same will be examined.

Key words: parenting; occupational science; life course sociology

References

Caspi, A., Bem, D. J., & Elder, G. H., Jr. (1989). Continuities and consequences of interactional styles across the life course. Journal of Personality, 57(2), 375–406.

Dickie, V., Cutchin, M. P., & Humphry, R. (2006). Occupation as transactional experience: A critique of individualism in occupational science. Journal of Occupational Science, 13, 83-93.

Elder, G.H., Jr. (1998). The life course as developmental theory. Child Development, 69, 1, 1-12.

Macmillan, R., & Copher, R. (2005). Families in the life course: Interdependency of roles, role configurations, and pathways. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 858-879.

O'Rand, A.M. (2006). Stratification and the life course: Life course capital, life course risks and social inequality. In R. H. Binstock & L. K. George (Eds.), Handbook of aging and the social sciences (pp. 145-162). New York: Academic Press.

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Oct 18th, 11:05 AM Oct 18th, 11:35 AM

Meaningful connections between disciplines: The occupation of parenting from a life course perspective

Hiawatha 2

The current focus of occupational science is closely tied to self-action. In many instances, the definition has been extended to include inter-action, a sort of reciprocal engagement between an individual and his/her environment or another individual. However, some scholars have critiqued this individualistic approach toward occupation and presented a case for a more deliberate inclusion of social and cultural contexts within the study of occupation. When studying the occupations of children, it then becomes important to study the family as a whole in order to include social and cultural components of daily life. Although occupational therapy practitioners have highlighted the importance of the family, the unique occupation of parenting has received much less attention by occupational scientists and therapists alike. Where included, mothering has been studied either as a co-occupation or as co-creating experiences in order to describe shared occupations of parent and child. However, family routines and rituals have been given much more importance, and the process and experience of parenting as a socially embedded occupation has not been studied.

In order to understand the social and cultural existence of families, this paper presents life course sociology as an opportunity to study the occupation of parenting in a holistic manner. The life course perspective as a concept describes a sequence of age-graded roles, which are a consequence of opportunities, expectations and limitations. Expectations are typically decided by societal norms and structure the life course. Thus, the life course perspective as a paradigm examines situations holistically, taking into account concepts like social roles, historical contexts, institutions such as education and family, linked lives, timing of events, and human agency, to mention a few. For the purpose of this argument, three distinct life course concepts will be highlighted as potential starting points to study the occupation of parenting. First, to illustrate the additive or leveling effects of adverse or favorable situations, cumulative advantage/disadvantage will be explored. Next, in order to examine parenting roles in the contexts of other roles, the concept of pathways will be described. Finally, to make an argument for comprehensive data collection pertaining to the history and lineage of parenting practices, the importance of intergenerational/multigenerational studies will be highlighted. In conclusion, the implications for occupational science and therapy as well as methodological implications for the same will be examined.

Key words: parenting; occupational science; life course sociology