Named in the lexicon: Meanings ascribed to occupation in personal and professional life spaces

Sally-Anne Denshire, Hon Colleen Mullavey-O'Byrne

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    3 Citations (Scopus)


    The research undertaken by the primary author into the phenomenon of reflection in occupational therapy focused on the relation of personal and professional life spaces. A combination of lexicography-based analysis and metaphor analysis was used to explicate the autobiographical knowing within her published writings. The main method reported in this paper is a lexicography-based analysis derived from the style of dictionary making based on historical principles, as epitomised by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). A broader rather than a narrower meaning was found to be ascribed to the key word 'occupation' in the literature of occupational therapy and, more recently, in that of occupational science. However, the present OED entry for 'occupation' does not adequately track these changes in meaning. The combination of language-based methods used offers a new strategy for exploring implicit knowledge in the human-related professions. By integrating personal and professional life through the concept of occupation, the research has produced a deeper understanding of reflective practice. It contributes to the literature that suggests that congruent use of the term 'occupation' (and related terms) may interpret a person's life experiences in a more coherent way than the use of language with clinical connotations. Future research into language for practice is proposed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)519-527
    Number of pages9
    JournalBritish Journal of Occupational Therapy
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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