Title

Recovering Identity after Occupational Displacement-20 Year Follow-up On Impact of ADA Litigation on Life Course

1

Location

Pre-function area and Great Room 1B

Start Time

19-10-2017 7:00 PM

End Time

19-10-2017 9:00 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

This is a follow up to a 1999 dissertation project entitled Occupation and Adaptation: An Ethnographic Study of Ten People with Disabilities using Title I of the ADA to Fight Employment Discrimination (White, 1999). Interviews explored participants’ perceptions of their roles as pioneers in shaping ADA law, and the impact of that litigation experience on occupation, adaptation, and identity in their lives, and how occupations displaced by unemployment and litigation were replaced and the perceived effect of the new occupations.

Description of methods: Participants: 5 of original 10 people with mobility impairments. Data collection: Ethnography including longitudinal life history, participant observation, and document analysis. Analysis: NVivo for coding and thematic analysis

Report of results: The concept of occupational displacement and recovery and its role in self-identity of the participants was one of several theoretical concepts developed in the 1999 study. The current study is examining the effect of the litigation experience on the participants 20 years after they pioneered ADA litigation to fight discrimination. Nine of ten participants lost employment to alleged disability discrimination and with it, lost a significant element of their occupational identity (Christiansen, 1999), plunging them into a liminal (Turner, 1977; Murphy, Scheer, Murphry & Mack, 1988) tunnel (White, 1999). Left with excess free time and less income with which to fill the time, most participants struggled. Yet most found meaning through the moral imperative of fighting for rights through the ADA in hopes of ‘making life better for those who come after’ by breaking down stigma and the social construct of disability (Liachowitz, 1988) and increasing employment opportunities. Trends emerging from analysis are: two participants have assumed identity of disability advocate and are using 1996-9 interview transcripts to inform their autobiographies. Overcoming occupational displacement by meaningful work as volunteer, disability rights advocate, entrepreneur, and hobbyist among others. The restored identify is more resilient to subsequent life challenges such as divorce, business challenges, and illness.

Implications related to occupational science: A deeper exploration of the impact of liminality in situations of traumatic life events: unreality, identity loss, displacement. An attempt to understand the process of identity transformation and re-identification through recapturing occupation following displacement, and further appreciation of narrative as a research, practice, and life story enrichment tool.

Discussion questions to further occupational science concepts and ideas:

How useful is the concept of occupational displacement?

What about the traumatic liminal experience contributes to resilience?

In longitudinal life history, what other OS-relevant themes might emerge?

References

Christiansen, C. (1999). 1999 Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture. Defining lives: Occupation as identity: An essay on competence, coherence, and the creation of meaning. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 53, 547-558.

Liachowitz, C. H. (1988). Disability as a social construct: Legislative roots. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Murphy, R., Scheer, J., Murphy, Y., & Mack, R. (1988). Physical disability and social liminality: A study in the rituals of adversity. Social Science and Medicine, 26(2), 235-242.

Turner, T. T. (1977). Transformation, hierarchy, and transcendence: A reformulation of van Gennep's model of the structure of rites de passage. In S. F. Moore & B. G. Myerhoff (Eds.), Secular ritual (pp. 53-70). Amsterdam: Van Gorcum.

White, John A. (1999). Occupation and adaptation: An ethnographic study of people with disabilities using the ADA to fight employment discrimination. (dissertation), University of Southern California.

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Oct 19th, 7:00 PM Oct 19th, 9:00 PM

Recovering Identity after Occupational Displacement-20 Year Follow-up On Impact of ADA Litigation on Life Course

Pre-function area and Great Room 1B

This is a follow up to a 1999 dissertation project entitled Occupation and Adaptation: An Ethnographic Study of Ten People with Disabilities using Title I of the ADA to Fight Employment Discrimination (White, 1999). Interviews explored participants’ perceptions of their roles as pioneers in shaping ADA law, and the impact of that litigation experience on occupation, adaptation, and identity in their lives, and how occupations displaced by unemployment and litigation were replaced and the perceived effect of the new occupations.

Description of methods: Participants: 5 of original 10 people with mobility impairments. Data collection: Ethnography including longitudinal life history, participant observation, and document analysis. Analysis: NVivo for coding and thematic analysis

Report of results: The concept of occupational displacement and recovery and its role in self-identity of the participants was one of several theoretical concepts developed in the 1999 study. The current study is examining the effect of the litigation experience on the participants 20 years after they pioneered ADA litigation to fight discrimination. Nine of ten participants lost employment to alleged disability discrimination and with it, lost a significant element of their occupational identity (Christiansen, 1999), plunging them into a liminal (Turner, 1977; Murphy, Scheer, Murphry & Mack, 1988) tunnel (White, 1999). Left with excess free time and less income with which to fill the time, most participants struggled. Yet most found meaning through the moral imperative of fighting for rights through the ADA in hopes of ‘making life better for those who come after’ by breaking down stigma and the social construct of disability (Liachowitz, 1988) and increasing employment opportunities. Trends emerging from analysis are: two participants have assumed identity of disability advocate and are using 1996-9 interview transcripts to inform their autobiographies. Overcoming occupational displacement by meaningful work as volunteer, disability rights advocate, entrepreneur, and hobbyist among others. The restored identify is more resilient to subsequent life challenges such as divorce, business challenges, and illness.

Implications related to occupational science: A deeper exploration of the impact of liminality in situations of traumatic life events: unreality, identity loss, displacement. An attempt to understand the process of identity transformation and re-identification through recapturing occupation following displacement, and further appreciation of narrative as a research, practice, and life story enrichment tool.

Discussion questions to further occupational science concepts and ideas:

How useful is the concept of occupational displacement?

What about the traumatic liminal experience contributes to resilience?

In longitudinal life history, what other OS-relevant themes might emerge?