Title

Examining occupation through a critical occupational approach

1

Location

Armory Room

Start Time

30-9-2016 10:30 AM

End Time

30-9-2016 12:00 PM

Session Type

Forum

Abstract

Title: Examining occupation through a critical occupational approach

Key words: occupation, qualitative research, critical social science

Abstract

Rationale: Occupational scientists are immersed in contexts that shape values and beliefs about what are considered ‘normal’ occupational possibilities (Njelesani, Teachman, Durocher, Hamdani, & Phelan, 2015). These values and beliefs privilege some occupations and devalue or negate others. A critical occupational approach (Njelesani, Gibson, Nixon, Cameron, & Polatajko, 2013) is useful for examining occupational norms because it enables an examination of: what assumptions and ideologies underlie human activity; how knowledge is (re)produced through engagement in occupations; who controls knowledge production; how occupations are chosen; and how social, cultural, and political contexts shape and are shaped by occupations.

Aim: We aim to demonstrate that employing a critical occupational approach can be a useful methodological tool for occupational scientists to use when exploring occupational possibilities across the life-span. Using empirical research examples, we will discuss how adopting a critical occupational approach can reveal taken for granted values and assumptions about ‘normal’ occupations, directing attention to particular kinds of occupational possibilities and neglecting/overlooking others that may be better suited to clients’ lives/life circumstances.

Potential outcomes for participants: At the end of the forum, participants will be able to:

  • articulate the key tenets of a critical occupational approach;
  • comprehend how applying a critical occupational approach could be useful for examining whether and how research on occupation might uncritically and unknowingly contribute to the normalization of doing particular occupations and unwittingly marginalize those who are ‘different’ or do things differently;
  • identify the advantages, limitations, and reasons for adopting a critical occupational approach in relation to other methodologies;
  • identify opportunities for applying the approach within their scope of research; and
  • will understand implications of this approach for advancing occupational science.

Discussion questions to facilitate occupational science concepts and ideas:

  • In the empirical examples, what assumptions underpinned preferences towards some occupations and the negation of others? Whose interests did portraying some occupations (and not others) as ‘normal’ serve? Were there potential harms related to supporting occupations assumed to be ‘normal’ and therefore desirable? What was missed by neglecting discussions of other occupational possibilities?
  • A critical occupational approach considers occupation to be a site of knowledge production rather than the object of inquiry. How does this approach to knowledge production influence our study of occupation? What novel understandings might be illuminated? What are potential limitations?
  • How will you assess the quality and transferability of the approach for your own research?

References

References

Njelesani, J., Teachman, G., Durocher, E., Hamdani, Y., & Phelan, S. K. (2015). Thinking critically about client-centred practice and occupational possibilities across the life-span. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy; 22, 252-259. doi:10.3109/11038128.2015. 1049550

Njelesani, J., Gibson, B. E., Nixon, S., Cameron, D., & Polatajko, H. (2013). Towards a critical occupational approach to research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods; 12, 207-220.

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Sep 30th, 10:30 AM Sep 30th, 12:00 PM

Examining occupation through a critical occupational approach

Armory Room

Title: Examining occupation through a critical occupational approach

Key words: occupation, qualitative research, critical social science

Abstract

Rationale: Occupational scientists are immersed in contexts that shape values and beliefs about what are considered ‘normal’ occupational possibilities (Njelesani, Teachman, Durocher, Hamdani, & Phelan, 2015). These values and beliefs privilege some occupations and devalue or negate others. A critical occupational approach (Njelesani, Gibson, Nixon, Cameron, & Polatajko, 2013) is useful for examining occupational norms because it enables an examination of: what assumptions and ideologies underlie human activity; how knowledge is (re)produced through engagement in occupations; who controls knowledge production; how occupations are chosen; and how social, cultural, and political contexts shape and are shaped by occupations.

Aim: We aim to demonstrate that employing a critical occupational approach can be a useful methodological tool for occupational scientists to use when exploring occupational possibilities across the life-span. Using empirical research examples, we will discuss how adopting a critical occupational approach can reveal taken for granted values and assumptions about ‘normal’ occupations, directing attention to particular kinds of occupational possibilities and neglecting/overlooking others that may be better suited to clients’ lives/life circumstances.

Potential outcomes for participants: At the end of the forum, participants will be able to:

  • articulate the key tenets of a critical occupational approach;
  • comprehend how applying a critical occupational approach could be useful for examining whether and how research on occupation might uncritically and unknowingly contribute to the normalization of doing particular occupations and unwittingly marginalize those who are ‘different’ or do things differently;
  • identify the advantages, limitations, and reasons for adopting a critical occupational approach in relation to other methodologies;
  • identify opportunities for applying the approach within their scope of research; and
  • will understand implications of this approach for advancing occupational science.

Discussion questions to facilitate occupational science concepts and ideas:

  • In the empirical examples, what assumptions underpinned preferences towards some occupations and the negation of others? Whose interests did portraying some occupations (and not others) as ‘normal’ serve? Were there potential harms related to supporting occupations assumed to be ‘normal’ and therefore desirable? What was missed by neglecting discussions of other occupational possibilities?
  • A critical occupational approach considers occupation to be a site of knowledge production rather than the object of inquiry. How does this approach to knowledge production influence our study of occupation? What novel understandings might be illuminated? What are potential limitations?
  • How will you assess the quality and transferability of the approach for your own research?