Exploring the Transactional Quality of Everyday Occupations Through Narrative-in-Action: Meaning-Making Among Women Living with Chronic Conditions

  • Sissel Alsaker
  • Staffan Josephsson
  • Virginia A. Dickie


In this chapter, we introduce everyday occupations as embedded in local cultural perspectives and how embeddedness is to be understood in the light of women living with chronic conditions. We address the dilemma between individual actions and experiences and their local and global contextualization. To that end we introduce our reading of Ricoeur’s reasoning on narrative-in-action and establish possible links to a transactional perspective. Stories elicited from the everyday life of women living with chronic conditions show how narrative meaning may occur in occupation and how the transactional qualities of occupation are unpacked through these everyday stories. Our presentation and discussion elaborates on how the inherent flexibility and openness of everyday occupation makes transactional opportunities available for the women. In such processes, meaning and morals are communicated between the individual woman and her local culture, showing transactions from different angles. Finally, we elaborate on the possibilities and hazards that we identify by using the concept of narrative-in-action to access transactional dimensions of human occupation.


Chronic Condition Everyday Life Everyday Activity Local Culture Transactional Dimension 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Alsaker, S. (2009). Narrative in action: Meaning-making in everyday activities of women living with chronic rheumatic conditions. PhD-thesis, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway.Google Scholar
  2. Alsaker, S., & Josephsson, S. (2004). Negotiating occupational identities while living with chronic rheumatic disease. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 10, 167–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alsaker, S., & Josephsson, S. (2010). Occupation and meaning: Narrative in everyday activities of women with chronic rheumatic conditions. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 30(2), 58–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alsaker, S., & Josephsson, S. (2011). Stories stirring the quest of the good: Narratives of women living with chronic rheumatic conditions. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 13(1), 53–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Alsaker, S., Bongaardt, R., & Josephsson, S. (2009). Studying narrative-in-action in women with chronic rheumatic conditions. Qualitative Health Research, 19(8), 1154–1161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Aristotle. (1920). Aristotle on the art of poetry. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Charmaz, K. (1999). Stories of suffering: Subjective tales and research narratives. Qualitative Health Research, 9(3), 362–382.Google Scholar
  8. Clark, F. (2000). The concepts of habits and routine: A preliminary theoretical synthesis. OTJR: Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, 20, 123–135.Google Scholar
  9. Cutchin, M. P. (2004). Using Deweyan philosophy to rename and reframe adaptation-to-environment. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58, 303–12.Google Scholar
  10. Cutchin, M. P., Aldrich, R. M., Bailliard, A., & Coppola, S. (2008). Action theories for occupational science: The contributions of Dewey and Bourdieu. Journal of Occupational Science, 15, 157–65.Google Scholar
  11. Cutchin, M. P., & Dickie, V. (2012). Transactionalism: Occupational science and the pragmatic attitude. In G. Whiteford , C. Hocking (Eds.), Occupational science: Society, inclusion, participation (pp. 23–37). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  12. DeFalco, A. (2010). An analysis of John Dewey’s notion of occupations: Still pedagogically valuable? Education and Culture, 26(1), 82–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dewey J., & Bentley, A. (1949). Knowing and known. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  14. Dickie, V., Cutchin, M. P., & Humphry, R. (2006). Occupation as transactional experience: A critique of individualism in occupational science. Journal of Occupational Science, 13(1), 83–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dubouloz, C.-J., Laporte, D., Hall, M., Ashe, B., & Smith, C. D. (2004). Transformation of meaning perspectives in clients with rheumatoid arthritis. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58(4), 398–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fesmire, S. (2003). John Dewey and the moral imagination: Pragmatism in ethics. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Frerer, K., & Vu, C. M. (2007). An anthropological view of poverty. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 16(1/2), 73–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gubrium, J., & Holstein, J. (1997). The new language of qualitative method. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Gullestad, M. (1996). Everyday life philosophers. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Hasselkus, B. R. (2006). The world of everyday occupation: Real people, real lives. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 60(6), 627–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hydèn, L.-C. (1997). Illness and narrative. Sociology of Health & Illness, 19(1), 48–69.Google Scholar
  22. Josephsson, S., Asaba, E., Jonsson, H., & Alsaker, S. (2006). Creativity and order in communication: Implications from philosophy to narrative research concerning human occupation. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 13(2), 125–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kielhofner, G. (1997). Conceptual foundations of occupational therapy (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: F A Davis Company.Google Scholar
  24. Kielhofner, G. (2008). Model of human occupation: Theory and application (4th ed.). Baltimore: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.Google Scholar
  25. Kralik, D. (2002). The quest for ordinariness: Transition experienced by midlife women living with chronic illness. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 39(2), 146–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lindseth, A., & Norberg, A. (2004). A phenomenological hermeneutical method for researching lived experience. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 18(2), 145–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. MacKinnon, J. R., & Miller, W. C. (2003). Rheumatoid arthritis and self esteem: The impact of quality occupation. Journal of Occupational Science, 10(2), 90–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mattingly, C. (1998a). Healing dramas and clinical plots: The narrative structure of experience. Los Angeles: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mattingly, C. (1998b). In search of the good: Narrative reasoning in clinical practice. Medical Anthropology, 12(3), 273–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mattingly, C. (2006). Reading medicine: Mind, body, and meditation in one interpretive community. New Literary History, 37(3), 563–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nygren, B., Norberg, A., & Lundman, B. (2007). Inner strength as disclosed in narratives of the oldest old. Qualitative Health Research, 17(8), 1060–1073.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pierce, D. (2001). Untangling occupation and activity. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 55, 38–146.Google Scholar
  33. Polkinghorne, D. (2004). Practice and the human sciences: The case for a judgement-based practice of care. New York: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  34. Ricoeur, P. (1974). Metaphor and the main problem of hermeneutics. New literary History, 6(1), 95–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ricoeur, P. (1984a). Time and narrative (Vol. I–III). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  36. Ricoeur, P. (1984b). Time and narrative (Vol. I). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  37. Ricoeur, P. (1991). From text to action: Essays in hermeneutics. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Rosenfeld, D., & Faircloth, C. (2004). Embodied fluidity and the commitment to movement: Constructing the moral self through arthritis narratives. Symbolic interaction, 27, 507–529.Google Scholar
  39. Stamm, T., Lovelock, L., Stew, G., Nell, V., Smolen, J., Jonsson, H., et al. (2008). I have mastered the challenge of living with a chronic disease: Life stories of people with rheumatoid arthritis. Qualitative Health Research, 18(5), 658–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Stern, N. D. (2004). The present moment in psychotherapy and everyday life. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  41. Taïeb, O., Révah-Lévy, A., Moro, M. R., & Baubet, T. (2008). Is Ricoeur’s notion of narrative identity useful in understanding recovery in drug addicts? Qualitative Health Research, 18(7), 990–1000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ville, I., & Khlat, M. (2007). Meaning and coherence of self and health: An approach based on narratives of life events. Social Science & Medicine, 64(4), 1001–1014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Werner, A., Isaksen, L. W., & Malterud, K. (2003). “I am not the kind of woman who complains of everything”: Illness stories on self and shame in women with chronic pain. Social Science and Medicine, 59, 1035–1045.Google Scholar
  44. Yoshida, K., & Stephens, M. (2004). Living with rheumatoid arthritis: Strategies that support independence and autonomy in everyday life. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, 20(4), 221–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zemke, R., & Clark, F. (1996). Occupational Science: The evolving discipline. Philadelphia: F A Davis Company.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sissel Alsaker
    • 1
  • Staffan Josephsson
    • 2
  • Virginia A. Dickie
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Health and Social CareSør-Trøndelag University CollegeTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Division of Occupational TherapyKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Department of Allied Health Sciences, Division of Occupational Science and Occupational TherapyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

Personalised recommendations