Title

Systems view of life as a support for three philosophies of occupation

Location

Merritt Room

Start Time

3-10-2015 2:30 PM

End Time

3-10-2015 4:00 PM

Session Type

Theoretical Paper

Abstract

The intent of this theoretical paper is to propose that Capra’s (1997) web of life be used as a foundational support for the three philosophies of occupation described in current literature about occupation. These philosophies include occupation as subjective experience (Pierce, 2001a, 2001b), occupation as transactional experience (Cutchin, 2004), and occupation as community health (Wilcock, 2006). Because each philosophy has a different focus, it is important for occupational scientists to understand the relations among them, so that the full identity of occupation can be better understood and utilized in practice.

The possibility of using the web of life as a foundational support for the three philosophies was discovered during a constructivist grounded theory study in which a broad spectrum of literature, including the three philosophies, was explored for life-supporting relevance. Capra’s (1997) web of life was used as a lens to assure that relevance. As a model of deep ecology concerned with what sustains life, Capra’s web is congruent with current trends to emphasize flourishing experience in the study of occupation. Because it is empirically grounded and consistent with most spiritual traditions, it also lends itself to concerns for evidence-based occupational therapy practice and for holistic proficiency. While this application of constructivist grounded theory methodology is not typical, it successfully supported the inquiry.

Web constructs include three criteria requisite to sustained life, details of the change process, including autopoiesis, and encompassing life systems. The three criteria, process of cognition, dissipative structure, and self-organizing pattern, are respectively congruent with Pierce’s (2001a) productivity, pleasure, and restorative qualities of occupation. Details of the change process, catalytic loops, structural coupling, far from equilibrium, and bifurcation, align respectively with the themes of continuity, contingency, problem, and action that support the transactional perspective of Deweyan philosophy (Cutchin, 2004). The encompassing systems in Capra’s (1997) web are consistent with Wilcock’s (2006) descriptions of relations between community and individuals. Capra’s (1997) autopoiesis is reflected in Pierce’s (2001a) expansion of capacity, Cutchin’s (2004) construction of self, and Wilcock’s (2006) definition of becoming.

Applied to occupational therapy concerns, the web of life offers a framework for the qualities that guide best practice. The web’s empirical grounding supports the necessity for client-centered practice, meaningfulness of activities, and creative expression. Conversely, literature suggests that lack of adherence to these principles creates deterioration. While a balance between decay and thriving experience fluctuates naturally in the course of occupations, occupational therapy best practice aims to minimize decline and optimize healthy participation. Linking Capra’s web of life to occupational therapy practice affirms current best practice principles as accurate and illuminates the importance of adhering to those principles.

Capra’s (1997) web of life offers the breadth of support sufficient for all current philosophies of occupation, locating them in relation to one another and promising a better understanding of the larger identity of occupation. The web’s depth, which links empirical grounding with spiritual values, reinforces the essential nature of occupational therapy best practice principles generated from discourse about spirituality.

Keywords: philosophies of occupation, web of life

References

Capra, F. (1997). The web of life: A new scientific understanding of living systems. New York: Anchor.

Cutchin, M. P. (2004). Using Deweyan philosophy to rename and reframe adaptation-to-environment. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58(3), 303-312. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5014/ajot.58.3.303

Pierce, D. (2001a). Occupation by design: Dimensions, therapeutic power, and creative process. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 55, 249-259.

Pierce, D. (2001b). Untangling occupation and activity. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 55, 138-146.

Wilcock, A.A. (2006). An occupational perspective of health (2nd ed.). Thorofare, NJ: Slack.

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Oct 3rd, 2:30 PM Oct 3rd, 4:00 PM

Systems view of life as a support for three philosophies of occupation

Merritt Room

The intent of this theoretical paper is to propose that Capra’s (1997) web of life be used as a foundational support for the three philosophies of occupation described in current literature about occupation. These philosophies include occupation as subjective experience (Pierce, 2001a, 2001b), occupation as transactional experience (Cutchin, 2004), and occupation as community health (Wilcock, 2006). Because each philosophy has a different focus, it is important for occupational scientists to understand the relations among them, so that the full identity of occupation can be better understood and utilized in practice.

The possibility of using the web of life as a foundational support for the three philosophies was discovered during a constructivist grounded theory study in which a broad spectrum of literature, including the three philosophies, was explored for life-supporting relevance. Capra’s (1997) web of life was used as a lens to assure that relevance. As a model of deep ecology concerned with what sustains life, Capra’s web is congruent with current trends to emphasize flourishing experience in the study of occupation. Because it is empirically grounded and consistent with most spiritual traditions, it also lends itself to concerns for evidence-based occupational therapy practice and for holistic proficiency. While this application of constructivist grounded theory methodology is not typical, it successfully supported the inquiry.

Web constructs include three criteria requisite to sustained life, details of the change process, including autopoiesis, and encompassing life systems. The three criteria, process of cognition, dissipative structure, and self-organizing pattern, are respectively congruent with Pierce’s (2001a) productivity, pleasure, and restorative qualities of occupation. Details of the change process, catalytic loops, structural coupling, far from equilibrium, and bifurcation, align respectively with the themes of continuity, contingency, problem, and action that support the transactional perspective of Deweyan philosophy (Cutchin, 2004). The encompassing systems in Capra’s (1997) web are consistent with Wilcock’s (2006) descriptions of relations between community and individuals. Capra’s (1997) autopoiesis is reflected in Pierce’s (2001a) expansion of capacity, Cutchin’s (2004) construction of self, and Wilcock’s (2006) definition of becoming.

Applied to occupational therapy concerns, the web of life offers a framework for the qualities that guide best practice. The web’s empirical grounding supports the necessity for client-centered practice, meaningfulness of activities, and creative expression. Conversely, literature suggests that lack of adherence to these principles creates deterioration. While a balance between decay and thriving experience fluctuates naturally in the course of occupations, occupational therapy best practice aims to minimize decline and optimize healthy participation. Linking Capra’s web of life to occupational therapy practice affirms current best practice principles as accurate and illuminates the importance of adhering to those principles.

Capra’s (1997) web of life offers the breadth of support sufficient for all current philosophies of occupation, locating them in relation to one another and promising a better understanding of the larger identity of occupation. The web’s depth, which links empirical grounding with spiritual values, reinforces the essential nature of occupational therapy best practice principles generated from discourse about spirituality.

Keywords: philosophies of occupation, web of life