Overview of Occupational
Occupational science is a new academic discipline
that generates knowledge about human occupation
and humans as occupational beings. In occupational
science, occupation refers to all the things
that people do in their everyday life, not just
Occupational scientists research what people
do in their daily lives and what influences
their occupational potential.
AOSC is the world's first occupational science
education and research centre.
Occupational science is the study of human
occupations. It is a basic science dedicated
to the understanding of human occupation, using
both qualitative and quantitative methods of
Occupational science is an interdisciplinary
field that evolved in the late 1980s when anthropologists,
geographers, public health researchers, occupational
therapists, and others began to focus their
research on human occupation.
The term "occupational science" was
coined by a group of academic occupational therapists
at the University of Southern California under
the leadership of Elizabeth Yerxa.
What is "human
When you hear the word "occupation"
the first thing that comes to your mind is probably
your job, what you get paid to do, what you
trained to become.
But "occupation" can mean much more
than that to an open mind. Consider the following:
How do humans occupy the space around them?
How do humans occupy time? How do they occupy
themselves in the course of their daily lives?
How do groups of humans occupy space and time?
How do these groups structure their space and
time? What are the implications of these social
How does the structure of work, home life,
and community life determine what we think about
doing and what we want to do? How do culture,
economics, policies and more shape what is taken
for granted as "normal" everyday life?
How do humans exert agency through their occupations
i.e. what do they do to shape the structure
of their societies?
When it comes to human occupation, there are
certainly more questions than answers - which
is why occupational science has evolved. In
any case, there is certainly no sure definition
of "human occupation" but hopefully
the passage above has helped you consider the
various dimensions of "human occupation".
Who are occupational
Currently, the majority of occupational scientists
are occupational therapists and occupational
therapy educators/researchers. However, because
Occupational Science is a discipline with a
unique focus-the complexity and centrality of
occupation in human life-the field draws from
a remarkable breadth of interdisciplinary resources,
- Performing and fine arts
Each of these disciplines provides different
perspectives on the underlying components of
occupation. These components are then researched
further to understand how adaptation and engagement
in occupations shape our lives.
What does occupational
Occupational science offers us the chance to
gain a better understanding of human occupation.
This knowledge has the potential to contribute
to various professional and academic fields
(e.g. social sciences, health sciences, business
and administration), and ultimately to help
build healthier, more equitable, more prosperous
What do occupational
Occupational scientists conduct research to
answer such questions as:
- What gives human activities meaning?
- How is meaning experienced?
- What are the health promoting benefits of
- What happens to people when their occupations
- What are the cultural influences on the nature
and meaning of occupation?
- How do gender, class, or other social factors
influence occupational pursuits?
- What are the biological bases for our daily
orchestration of occupations?
- How do neurobiological structures and processes
effect human engagement in the world?
- How do different types of engagement in the
world alter neurobiological structures and processes?