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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337


RUDMAN, Debbie Laliberte. Situating occupation in social relations of power: Occupational possibilities, ageism and the retirement 'choice'. S. Afr. j. occup. ther. [online]. 2015, vol.45, n.1, pp.27-33. ISSN 2310-3833.

INTRODUCTION: Research attending to social relations of power can enhance understanding of the mechanisms through which occupational injustices occur and inform socially transformative practice. This study explored how power operates through ageism in ways that shape what people come to take for granted regarding occupation in relation to age, and what occupations are supported through sociopolitical conditions. METHODS: Narratives were collected using a two-stage interview process with 17 retired Canadians. A critical narrative analysis approach was employed to examine how these narratives revealed the complex ways occupations are negotiated within broader discourses and age relations. FINDINGS: Ageism mattered for how and when individuals came to retire and for occupational possibilities in the realm of work. Informants conveyed experiences of being marginalised, displaced and disempowered in the work force and, at times, internalised ageist discourses to make sense of when and how they came to retire. CONCLUSION: Within the study context, social relations of power related to age influenced occupational possibilities for work and bounded retirement 'choices'. A focus on power in relation to occupation as it intersects with a variety of social markers can provide a nexus to inter-connect socially transformative work in occupational therapy and occupational science, advancing the shared intent of promoting human flourishing through occupation.

Keywords : Narrative; discourse; occupational injustice; later life.

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