Togetherness in Everyday Occupations – How Participation in On-going Life with Others Enables Change

Published: 19 March 2020

The overall aim of this thesis is to provide knowledge of how everyday occupations with others can be understood as on-going and evolving processes in people’s lives.

This thesis includes four papers, all with a qualitative approach and focus on everyday occupations with others from the perspective of people in different life situations.

In Study I, nine persons with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were interviewed on how they experienced the influence of others on their engagement in occupations. Data were analyzed using a constant comparative method and, showed how everyday occupations with others can be understood as constructive collaboration or insufficient collaboration. These two types of collaboration were related to different actions, undertaken by other persons, which created or restricted opportunities for occupational engagement and the experience of the engagement, including the autonomy and meaning of occupational engagement.

Study II was conducted with five elderly persons living with late-life depression and focused on how they engaged in everyday occupations with others, over time, and how this occupational engagement was related to their meaning making. Repeated interviews and participant observations generated data that were analyzed using a narrative approach. Based on the analysis, the concept of enacted togetherness was constructed, conceptualizing togetherness as an acted relation, creating an acted belonging rather than just a feeling or sense of belonging. Being part of an enacted togetherness provided ways for the participants to negotiate and create meaning in their everyday lives. Further, the findings suggest that being part of an enacted togetherness created opportunities to enact agency.

Study III explored how agency was enacted in everyday occupations with others and evolved over time for an older woman living with late-life depression. A contextualized, in-depth story was created through narrative analysis based on interviews and participant observations. The findings show how the conditions for agency are related to socially situated, embedded experiences rather than an individual’s capacity or ability to act independently in different situations.

In Study IV, focus group discussions were conducted with 12 elderly persons, and a constant comparative method was used to explore and gain insight into how togetherness in everyday occupations with others was experienced and discussed. The findings show how everyday occupation with others can be understood as multifold transactional processes and, how an acted belonging is a situated experience that connects people and places through an unfolding story.

In conclusion, this thesis contributes with an understanding of how everyday occupations with others can be comprehended as an arena where togetherness and belonging can be created. Engaging in occupations with others provides ways for people to gain access to and become part of an unfolding story where issues related to meaning making can be negotiated. Moreover, this thesis shows how situated experiences connected to occupations with others promote participation and enable change. Therefore, it is important to consider occupations to be transactional processes and focus on the situations in which people’s everyday occupations take place in order to support agency and participation when empowering clients to achieve change.

Collaborators in this project:
​Staffan Josephsson, professor in Occupational Therapy, Karolinska Institutet 
​Gunilla Isaksson, professor in Occupational Therapy, LTU
Anneli Nyman, PhD student in the project (PhD degree 2013)