The Art and Science of Living
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Author: Charles Christiansen,Elizabeth A. Townsend
Category: Business & Economics
There is an old story about people describing an elephant, one by touching a leg, one by sitting on the elephant, one by feeling it blow through its large trunk, and so on. Each person has a different understanding of the elephant. Their collected descriptions describe the strength, gentleness, and force of the elephant from different perspectives. To fully understand the elephant, it is necessary to collect many perspectives and to present them as parts of a profile. Now, consider the English wordoccupation.No doubt many images come to mind. In contemplating this book, our goal was to provide a variety of ways for people to consider how humans occupy their time, dedicate their energy, realize their sense of personhood, and organize their societies. Occupations can be considered in economic terms, in social terms, as expressions of personality, or as "doings" that influence health and well-being. Historically, the literature of human occupation has focused on particular perspectives. There have been books on time use, books on leisure and work, books on occupational hazards and safety, and books on occupational medicine and occupational therapy, among others. But no book has previously invited authors from a range of disciplines and backgrounds to explore what people do, and why, how, where, with whom, and to what consequences these everyday occupations collectively define, organize, and influence our lives. This book takes the view that occupations include all meaningful acts that collectively define and give meaning to daily living. In his bookActs of Meaning,Jerome Bruner has written that people understand their lives through stories. He then points out that these stories are constructed from the acts that are central to everyday human occupations. In this book, the acts that comprise and give meaning to lives are explored in all their complexity, providing awareness that this is a topic that is large and complex like an elephant. We are delighted that the many talented contributors were willing to share their different points of view in this volume. Our hope is that, collectively, their views of occupation will help readers from many diverse areas gain a broader and enriched perspective of occupations, both as a means of social classification and as a powerful array of experiences shaping everyday life in both obvious and subtle ways. We present you with a book that examines what people do in their everyday worlds. We invite you to consider the various forces that shape the world of occupations and to reflect on how those experiences shape individuals and communities in the world. As you consider the writings in this book, we invite you to explore individual ideas in more detail through focused readings found through examination of the supporting literature for each chapter and to visit the companion web site for additional opportunities to explore topics. We then challenge you to consider your own occupations and to reflect on how they can be used to shape the meaning of your life story and how occupations might be organized in your culture or community. This is the first editorial collaboration between two people who share a passion for learning about occupations in everyday life. Through this book, we invite you to join us in an engaging and enlightening occupational pursuit. We are indebted to John Robinson, a pioneer in the study of time use related to human occupation, for his contribution to this volume. We acknowledge with appreciation the work of Linda Buxell, Mark Cohen, Charles Hayden, Melissa Kerrian, and Judy Wolf, who made the occupation of editing this book an enjoyable and memorable chapter in our own life stories.