A case study exploring the application of the Occupation-based Community Development Framework: co-constructing humanising praxis

Master Thesis


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The Occupation-based Community Development (ObCD) framework draws on critical occupational science concepts in working with marginalized communities to bring about transformative change (Galvaan & Peters, 2017a). However, little research has been conducted on this to date, specifically within community development practice (CDP) and in the Global South. This study asked the question: “How does the application of an occupational perspective and participatory action methods influence the processes within ObCD?” A qualitative research design employing an instrumental single case study was conducted. The case was bounded within the University of Cape Town’s final year Occupational Therapy student service-learning placements during the period of 2014 to 2016, in South Africa. Participants were purposively selected and included occupational therapy clinical educators and recent occupational therapy graduates who had applied the ObCD framework during their CDP placements. Data was generated through a focus group; individual semi-structured interviews and analysis of graduates’ written reports. A thematic analysis revealed the case to be that of co-constructing humanising praxis, describing the evolving thinking and doing of practice. Three themes, namely: 1) Processes of dialogue and doing; 2) Situating occupational perspectives in socio-political and historicised contexts; and 3) Negotiating positionalities, offer detailed descriptions of the elements to consider in engaging and developing this form of praxis. The discussion illustrates how praxis resonates with the values of critical and social occupational therapy in working towards promoting occupational justice. Thereby, proposing that occupational justice implies engaging in humanising praxis, through a co-constructed journey with stakeholders. The suggestion made is that praxis guided by the ObCD Framework promotes occupational justice. Shifts in terminology and concepts, that could depict the values in ObCD more explicitly are suggested. Finally, praxis as a potential avenue for decolonising domains of occupational therapy practice is identified. Recommendations relating to occupational therapy curricula, services and research are offered.