Resource Seeking as Occupation: A Critical and Empirical Exploration

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Abstract

Occupational therapists and occupational scientists are committed to generating and using knowledge about occupation, but Western middle-class social norms regarding particular ways of doing have limited explorations of survival occupations. This article provides empirical evidence of the ways in which resource seeking constitutes an occupational response to situations of uncertain survival. Resource seeking includes a range of activities outside formal employment that aim to meet basic needs. On the basis of findings from 2 ethnographic studies, we critique the presumption of survival in guiding occupational therapy documents and the accompanying failure to recognize occupations that seem at odds with self-sufficiency. We argue that failing to name resource seeking in occupational therapy documents risks alignment with social, political, and economic trends that foster occupational injustices. If occupational therapists truly aim to meet society’s occupational needs, they must ensure that professional documents and discourses reflect the experiences of all people in society.

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