Towards a Critical Occupational Approach to Research

  • Janet Njelesani University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Barbara E. Gibson University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Stephanie Nixon University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Debra Cameron University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Helene J. Polatajko University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Abstract

Critical approaches to research are becoming increasingly more prevalent but occupational science and critical approaches have not been explicitly combined into one approach despite the potential to enrich the understanding of the assumptions and ideologies underlying human activity. In this article we outline an approach to research that is mutually informed by occupational and critical social science perspectives. The critical occupational approach we describe can be used to explore the ways in which knowledge is produced through engagement in occupation, who controls knowledge production, the mechanisms of how occupations are taken up, and who stands to gain or lose. We discuss the implications and considerations for generating research purposes and methods and conducting analyses. We then illustrate the use of the approach through a case study. We conclude this article with consideration of the wider uses and implications of a critical occupational approach within health and social research.

Author Biographies

Janet Njelesani, University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Lecturer (status-appointment) Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy University of Toronto
Barbara E. Gibson, University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Associate Professor Department of Physical Therapy University of Toronto
Stephanie Nixon, University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Assistant Professor Department of Physical Therapy University of Toronto
Debra Cameron, University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Assistant Professor Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy University of Toronto
Helene J. Polatajko, University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Professor Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy University of Toronto
Published
2013-05-29
Section
Articles