Title

Changing Neighborhoods and Reshaping Occupations: Experiences of Older African-Americans in Detroit

1

Location

Armory Room

Start Time

30-9-2016 3:00 PM

End Time

30-9-2016 4:30 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

Global economic crises and urban change can generate conditions that restrict occupational rights (Whalley Hammell & Iwama, 2012), contribute to occupational injustice (Durocher, Gibson, & Rappolt, 2014), or lead to adverse occupational outcomes (Stadnyk, Townsend, & Wilcock, 2010). Nonetheless, occupational science has paid little attention to how neighborhood environments and their change affect occupation. The purpose of this paper is to begin addressing that gap. Detroit, Michigan has undergone dramatic neighborhood change, accelerated by the global financial crisis of 2008, resulting in older minorities being trapped in deteriorating contexts for occupation. We present findings from a qualitative investigation conducted as part of a larger mixed methods study of 100 African-Americans aged 55 and older living in a variety of neighborhood contexts in Detroit. The qualitative portion of the study, conducted with a subsample of older adults (n = 20) utilized participant-generated photos and photo-elicitation interviews to examine the role of neighborhood change and associated issues in older African Americans’ daily activities and stress. Participants were asked to take photographs of their neighborhood that represented what they thought were important to their daily activities or stress. Participants’ photographs were then viewed with participants and discussed during an open-ended photo-elicitation interview. In total, 720 photos were collected and interviews averaged 50 minutes, resulting in 566 pages of transcriptions. We used grounded theory analysis (Charmaz, 2006) to explain how older African Americans in Detroit experience changes in their daily activities in response to changes in their neighborhood environments. The story that emerges from those findings suggests participants tend to live in neighborhoods that have experienced significant change, often for the worse, which contributes to feelings of fear and/or frustration. Occupational change was conceptualized as four primary types in our sample: (a) spatial and temporal change or restriction in occupations, (b) withdrawal from neighborhood social participation, (c) introduction of acts of heightened vigilance within daily occupations, and (d) increased participation in actions to preserve and protect their neighborhood. The findings provide evidence that neighborhood deterioration is closely related to negative occupational outcomes. Although changing neighborhood environmental conditions in Detroit neighborhoods are more dramatic than in some cities, our findings suggest that occupational injustice is amplified both in the context of neighborhood change and in the context of vulnerabilities related to aging minorities. We discuss further expansion of the concept of occupational injustice and additional application of the concept in urban residential contexts.

References

Charmaz K. (2006) Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide through Qualitative Analysis. Sage, Thousand Oaks, California.

Durocher, E., Gibson, B., & Rappolt, S. (2014) Occupational justice: A conceptual review. Journal of Occupational Science, 21(4), 418-430. doi:10.1080/14427591.2013.775692

Stadnyk, R., Townsend, E., & Wilcock, A. (2010). Occupational justice. In C. H. Christiansen & E A. Townsend (Eds.), Introduction to occupation: The art and science of living (2nd ed., pp. 329- 358). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Whalley Hammell, K. R., & Iwama, M. K. (2012). Well-being and occupational rights: an imperative for critical occupational therapy. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 19(5), 385-394. doi: 10.3109/11038128.2011.611821

Discussion Questions:

  1. How might we better identify and address the conditions that contribute to occupational injustices in our own ‘backyards’ and the populations most at risk?
  2. How does occupational science use its understanding of environments and occupation injustices to impact policy change (or to work with those in power to design and built more just environments to begin with)?
  3. How do we address injustices such as those in Detroit MI that are due in part to macro-level economic and social disruptions?

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Sep 30th, 3:00 PM Sep 30th, 4:30 PM

Changing Neighborhoods and Reshaping Occupations: Experiences of Older African-Americans in Detroit

Armory Room

Global economic crises and urban change can generate conditions that restrict occupational rights (Whalley Hammell & Iwama, 2012), contribute to occupational injustice (Durocher, Gibson, & Rappolt, 2014), or lead to adverse occupational outcomes (Stadnyk, Townsend, & Wilcock, 2010). Nonetheless, occupational science has paid little attention to how neighborhood environments and their change affect occupation. The purpose of this paper is to begin addressing that gap. Detroit, Michigan has undergone dramatic neighborhood change, accelerated by the global financial crisis of 2008, resulting in older minorities being trapped in deteriorating contexts for occupation. We present findings from a qualitative investigation conducted as part of a larger mixed methods study of 100 African-Americans aged 55 and older living in a variety of neighborhood contexts in Detroit. The qualitative portion of the study, conducted with a subsample of older adults (n = 20) utilized participant-generated photos and photo-elicitation interviews to examine the role of neighborhood change and associated issues in older African Americans’ daily activities and stress. Participants were asked to take photographs of their neighborhood that represented what they thought were important to their daily activities or stress. Participants’ photographs were then viewed with participants and discussed during an open-ended photo-elicitation interview. In total, 720 photos were collected and interviews averaged 50 minutes, resulting in 566 pages of transcriptions. We used grounded theory analysis (Charmaz, 2006) to explain how older African Americans in Detroit experience changes in their daily activities in response to changes in their neighborhood environments. The story that emerges from those findings suggests participants tend to live in neighborhoods that have experienced significant change, often for the worse, which contributes to feelings of fear and/or frustration. Occupational change was conceptualized as four primary types in our sample: (a) spatial and temporal change or restriction in occupations, (b) withdrawal from neighborhood social participation, (c) introduction of acts of heightened vigilance within daily occupations, and (d) increased participation in actions to preserve and protect their neighborhood. The findings provide evidence that neighborhood deterioration is closely related to negative occupational outcomes. Although changing neighborhood environmental conditions in Detroit neighborhoods are more dramatic than in some cities, our findings suggest that occupational injustice is amplified both in the context of neighborhood change and in the context of vulnerabilities related to aging minorities. We discuss further expansion of the concept of occupational injustice and additional application of the concept in urban residential contexts.