CONCEPTUALISING OCCUPATION: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY OF DAILY LIFE IN A GREEK TOWN
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Kantartzis, S. (2013) CONCEPTUALISING OCCUPATION: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY OF DAILY LIFE IN A GREEK TOWN, , , , ,
Occupation is understood within the discipline of occupational science and the profession of occupational therapy to be a particular kind of activity with links to health. However, there has been little theoretical work exploring the construction of the concept and understandings are largely dependent on the writings of Western academics writing in the English language. Situated in contemporary understandings of cultural relativity, local narratives and issues of power, and my own 30 year experience of living and working in Greece, this ethnographic study was developed to explore the construction of the concept of occupation in Greece. Over a 30 month period I observed and participated in both celebratory and mundane occupation within the context of a small town. I explored the nature of occupation through the shared and largely tacit understandings of what was usual everyday life. The understanding of occupation that was developed was of an ongoing multi-dimensional process. Supported by the transactional theory of John Dewey (1949), occupation as process was an integral part of all elements of the situation (incorporating transacting individual, social, temporal, spatial and climatic elements), and worked to maintain the ongoing balance of the situation. Three plots of occupation in the town were configured - maintaining the self-in-the-world, maintaining the family, and maintaining the social fabric - that tell of what people were working towards, wanting to maintain, considered desirable and valued, as shared narratives underpinning on-going everyday life. The findings support the need for situated research that can explore local understandings of occupation. They challenge the ongoing position evident in much of the literature that views the individual as an active, knowledgeable agent, and support the importance of the developing scholarship incorporating transactional theories in understanding of occupation (Cutchin & Dickie, 2013). They also demonstrate that occupation is the process of people's engagement in the world and that health is not only expressed but also promoted through occupation.