Identity; activity theory; communities of practice; occupational therapy
A significant body of writing and rhetoric research focuses on the literate practices that reflect or construct the professional self, particularly in disciplines that rely heavily on the use of forms to categorize or identify customers, clients, or patients. Many of these studies examine the influence of discipline-specific genres on the creation of a professional self for healthcare practitioners. Occupational therapy, a nearly 100-year-old yet little understood profession, is significantly different from many other healthcare disciplines, in part, because the genres used by occupational therapists reflect the profession's careful attention to the whole life of a patient. These genres are built around an understanding of a patient's occupation as the object of the profession's activity system. "Occupation" (commonly defined too narrowly by those outside of the profession as "work"), is, quite simply, anything that meaningfully and purposefully occupies a person's time. This broadly defined object invites an expansive professional vision that includes the patient's life and history outside of a diagnosis. This study presents the narratives of four occupational therapists and the literate activities that inform their practice. Their voices, as excerpted in this case study, join a strong, ongoing conversation in writing and rhetoric studies about the relationship between genre and identity. Using the lens of activity theory, this is one account of a healthcare profession that pays unusual attention to patients' whole lives through genres that mediate shared agency between the caregiver and patient. It is also, however, the story of the ways in which this identity, as a uniquely occupation-based discipline, becomes obscured as therapists translate their work to genres created and controlled by other, more powerful activity systems.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Writing and Rhetoric
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities
Johnson, Stefanie, "Seeing a Whole Life: Genre and Identity in Occupational Therapy" (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 682.