Understanding the moral economics of occupational engagement
Occupational science scholars continue to debate the conceptualization of and processes related to occupational engagement. Despite active acknowledgement of the hierarchical and situated nature of occupational engagement, there is a paucity of evidence regarding the social processes that explain the situatedness of occupations and their role in maintaining social hierarchies, and thus, institutions. The aim of this ethnographic study was to better understand social processes related to occupational engagement. Participants included 18 adults with serious mental illness and 16 service-providers. Data collected at two clubhouses in the US via interviews, fieldwork (approximately 600 hours), and document review were analyzed using open and focused coding along with analytic interpretation. Findings helped generate a moral economics of occupations framework, which conceptualizes occupations as tangible assets and highlights their function in establishing and maintaining hierarchies and institutions. The framework highlights the positive association between agency, social capital, and occupational engagement. Research is required to assess transferability of the framework in various institutional settings.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)