Birgit Prodinger e-mail

Gesundheit und Agency: Occupational Science

Occupational scientists refer to occupation as “the various everyday activities people do as individuals, in families and with communities to occupy time and bring meaning and purpose to life. Occupations include things people need to, want to and are expected to do” (ISOS, 2010). Also the characteristics of the discipline itself have been discussed extensively, such as the link of OS to occupational therapy (OT), the philosophical and theoretical foundations, and the international and interdisciplinary character of the discipline (Blanche & Henny-Kohler, 2006; Hocking, 2000; Laliberte Rudman et al., 2008; Lunt, 1997).

More recently, several reviews were published on methodologies applied and topics addressed in the OS-literature (Glover, 2009; Molke, Laliberte-Rudman, & Polatajko, 2004; Molke & Laliberte Rudman, 2008; Mounter & Ilott, 2006; Pierce et al., 2010). Scientists with various disciplinary backgrounds, such as OT, sociology, anthropology, nursing, psychology, and aboriginal studies from across the world dedicate their work to OS.

Occupational scientists aim to understand human occupation in different contexts and at the different levels at which it occurs – from micro- to macro-level – and thus acknowledge a methodological pluralism. Their work is disseminated through various venues such as the Journal of Occupational Science, which is specifically dedicated to scholarship within OS; conferences, symposia, and think tanks that have been launched within and beyond OS-scholars (ISOS, 2010), educational programs have been established in OS that range from graduation with Bachelor to PhD degrees. Clark and Lawlor (2009) highlighted that ten international occupational science organizations are presently operating.

Occupational Science (OS) is entering its third decade of existence. Since it was formally founded as a discipline in 1989 in the United States (Yerxa, 1989; Zemke & Clark, 1996), an extensive body of literature has contributed to our knowledge on human occupation.

The ifz has taken an innovative and crucial step in providing space and resources to discuss human occupation and its relationship to health within an interdisciplinary context. By doing so, the ifz contributes significantly to the further development of OS as an emerging and evolving discipline in Europe, and in particular in the German-speaking context.