My Book

The Meaning of Everyday Occupation
Betty Risteen HasselkusThe Meaning of Everyday Occupation (2nd Ed.) Cover
SLACK, Inc., 2011
193 pages including index, hard cover

The Meaning of Everyday Occupation is a book that explores the dimensions of meaning in everyday occupation, both the sources of meaning found in occupation and the contributions that occupation makes to meaning in our lives.  The focus is on everyday occupation as experience, rather than occupation as task.

Everyday occupations represent dimensions of being that are of the utmost importance to quality of life for each one of us.  Daily occupation may be viewed as the essential current that propels each of us along a lifelong journey.  In addition to the doing aspects, occupation offers us experiences of creativity and cultural expression and meaningful connection to the others in our social worlds.  Occupation can nurture and release the spiritual aspects of our selves, and, in occupation, we create meaning and significance in the spaces and places in which we live.

In the chapters in the book, I explore these aspects of everyday occupation as follows:

Chapter 1:  Meaning:  An Essential for Life
Chapter 2:  Meaning in Everyday Occupation
Chapter 3:  Space and Place
Chapter 4:  Culture and Occupation
Chapter 5:  Occupation:  Well-being and Development
Chapter 6:  Occupation as Meaningful Connection
Chapter 7:  Disability and Occupation
Chapter 8:  Occupation:  Source of Spirituality
Chapter 9:  Creativity in Occupation
Chapter 10:  Occupation Speaks:  Final Thoughts

Throughout the book, verbatim quotations from occupational therapists are used to illustrate and exemplify the concepts being presented.  These quotations are largely drawn from the phenomenological interviews that Virginia Dickie and I conducted with therapists nationwide for our research on the experience of doing occupational therapy (Hasselkus & Dickie, 1994).  Further, I use quotes from other health professionals and family caregivers who participated in some of my other research.

I also incorporate accounts of my own experiences of everyday occupation into the chapters; this approach to scholarly writing has been called a “new brand of scholarship that freely mixes personal elements and research expertise” (Heller, 1992, A7-A9).  More recently, Graham Rowles spoke of the power of “interweaving personal experience with scholarly insight” (2008, p. 127).

The feedback I have received from faculty and students suggests that the mix of autobiographical elements, verbatim therapy excerpts, and theory and concepts of occupational therapy and occupational science offers strong material for teaching and learning.  A new Instructor’s Manual, with discussion questions and individual and group activities for each chapter, is available with this second edition.

To Paul Ricoeur, French philosopher of the 20th century, the work of human beings is to interpret the texts of life — music, painting, literature, or “anything else that humans produce that has meaning” — as a way to organize and to come to know our world (Vanhoozer, 2005, p.27).  I invite you, the reader, to engage in reflection and interpretation as you read The Meaning of Everyday Occupation.  And I invite you to use this blog to raise questions, suggest new interpretations, share understandings, share new resources, and just generally comment on the book and the ideas presented therein.  Welcome to the Everyday Occupation Blog.

Hasselkus, B.R., & Dickie, V.A. (1994).  Doing occupational therapy:  Dimensions of satisfaction and dissatisfaction.  American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 48, 145-154.

Heller, S. (1992, May).  Experience and expertise meet in a new brand of scholarship.  The Chronicle of Higher Education, A7-A9.

Rowles, G.D. (2008).  Place in occupational science:  A life course perspective on the role of environmental context in the quest for meaning.  Journal of Occupational Science, 15, 127-135.

Vanhoozer, K.J. (2005, August).  The joy of yes.  Ricoeur:  Philosopher of hope.  Christian Century, 27-28.

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