Title

Building global partnerships to study the occupational implications of long-term unemployment

Location

Hiawatha 3

Start Time

18-10-2014 11:05 AM

End Time

18-10-2014 11:35 AM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

Occupational science is increasingly attending to how sociopolitical discourses and policies influence everyday occupation (Laliberte Rudman & Forwell, 2013). Given that occupational science is a global discipline, research must account for how such social forces differ across international contexts. This paper will highlight preliminary findings from a cross-national ethnographic pilot study of occupation during long-term unemployment. The pilot study took place at sister non-profit organizations that provided services to people who were unemployed in the United States and Canada. Each author generated data at one of the sites, beginning with informal (non-audio recorded) interviews with two to four front-line service providers (Lipsky, 2010) and repeated observations of group classes and individual client-provider meetings. Each author also conducted up to two 30 to 90-minute interviews with four service seekers from each site. All data generation occurred between March and November 2013 and included a total of 14 participants. Study data continues to be iteratively analyzed based on both critical discourse (Cheek, 2004) and situational (Clarke, 2005) analytic approaches.

This presentation will address how the topic of occupation manifested in individual service seeker interviews as well as interactions between service providers and service seekers at each site. Preliminary findings reveal that sociopolitical discourses overtly influenced provider-client interactions by constructing service seekers as ‘activated unemployed job seekers’ (Olsen, 2008) and idealizing particular occupations relative to such a construction. Discussion of these findings will attend to how service providers and service seekers framed the occupational implications of long-term unemployment in each study context. In particular, the discussion will focus on the imperatives of becoming work ready and procuring work, and how service seekers negotiated occupations relative to those imperatives in the United States and Canada.

This presentation will also describe the expansion of this pilot project into a larger interdisciplinary international study. Currently underway, this expansion aims to include marginalized sub-groups within the population of unemployed people, such as immigrants and people with criminal backgrounds. The presentation will close with two questions: 1) What is the potential of such work to illuminate contradictory social forces surrounding work and unemployment? 2) How can the study of occupation address and be used to rectify such contradictions for various groups in society?

Key words: occupational science, cross-national research, unemployment

References

Cheek, J. (2004). At the margins? Discourse analysis and qualitative research. Qualitative Health Research, 14(8), 1140-1150.

Clarke, A. E. (2005). Situational analysis: Grounded theory after the postmodern turn. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Laliberte Rudman, D. & Forwell, S. (2013). Special issue on social policy and occupational science. Journal of Occupational Science, 20(4), 283-285.

Lipsky, M. (2010). Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Olsen, G. M. (2008). Labor market policy in the United States, Canada and Sweden: Addressing the issue of convergence. Social Policy & Administration, 42(4), 323-341. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9515.2008.00607.x

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

Building global partnerships to study the occupational implications of long-term unemployment

Hiawatha 3

Occupational science is increasingly attending to how sociopolitical discourses and policies influence everyday occupation (Laliberte Rudman & Forwell, 2013). Given that occupational science is a global discipline, research must account for how such social forces differ across international contexts. This paper will highlight preliminary findings from a cross-national ethnographic pilot study of occupation during long-term unemployment. The pilot study took place at sister non-profit organizations that provided services to people who were unemployed in the United States and Canada. Each author generated data at one of the sites, beginning with informal (non-audio recorded) interviews with two to four front-line service providers (Lipsky, 2010) and repeated observations of group classes and individual client-provider meetings. Each author also conducted up to two 30 to 90-minute interviews with four service seekers from each site. All data generation occurred between March and November 2013 and included a total of 14 participants. Study data continues to be iteratively analyzed based on both critical discourse (Cheek, 2004) and situational (Clarke, 2005) analytic approaches.

This presentation will address how the topic of occupation manifested in individual service seeker interviews as well as interactions between service providers and service seekers at each site. Preliminary findings reveal that sociopolitical discourses overtly influenced provider-client interactions by constructing service seekers as ‘activated unemployed job seekers’ (Olsen, 2008) and idealizing particular occupations relative to such a construction. Discussion of these findings will attend to how service providers and service seekers framed the occupational implications of long-term unemployment in each study context. In particular, the discussion will focus on the imperatives of becoming work ready and procuring work, and how service seekers negotiated occupations relative to those imperatives in the United States and Canada.

This presentation will also describe the expansion of this pilot project into a larger interdisciplinary international study. Currently underway, this expansion aims to include marginalized sub-groups within the population of unemployed people, such as immigrants and people with criminal backgrounds. The presentation will close with two questions: 1) What is the potential of such work to illuminate contradictory social forces surrounding work and unemployment? 2) How can the study of occupation address and be used to rectify such contradictions for various groups in society?

Key words: occupational science, cross-national research, unemployment