Co-occupation categories tested in the mothering context.
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Co-occupation is a concept original to occupational science that is based on theoretical understanding and has largely been neglected in empirical research. The concept of co-occupation arose in the mothering context and refers to the interplay and interdependence of the occupations of two or more people; however it is often thought of as being human interaction. This study was undertaken to help clarify the complexities of co-occupation and provide empirical data to support the initial definition of this concept. Based on a previous study’s hypothesis, that co-occupations can be categorised into ‘doing with’, ‘doing to’, ‘doing for’, and ‘doing because of’, this study was designed to validate or refute these four categories as an accurate framework for co-occupation. To answer the research question, ‘do the four co-occupation categories describe the mothering occupations of mothers of children aged 0-5 years?’ a content analysis of ten blogs written by mothers of children under the age of five was undertaken. The findings reveal that not all mothering events extracted from the blogs fit under the original four categories. A further category, ‘doing alongside’, was identified as describing an important kind of co-occupation; it lets the mother achieve tasks other than childcare and lets the child develop an understanding of the world with only minimal interference from the mother. Other categories were refined to accurately describe the occupational dynamics between mother and child in these co-occupations. Positioning this study’s findings in relevant literature demonstrates how co-occupation is omnipresent but not often recognised or described as such. Taxonomic issues around activity, occupation, and co-occupation arose and are discussed, a call for a common language in occupational therapy and occupational science is made, and the individualist view on occupation is critiqued. Further research recommendations are made and implications for practice, especially paediatric and maternal mental health, are discussed.
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