Value Dimensions, Meaning, and Complexity in Human Occupation – A Tentative Structure for Analysis.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In occupational therapy and occupational science, it is important to clarify the perspective from which the analysis of occupation is addressed. The purpose of this paper is to present a tentative structure for describing occupation, allowing for analysis in a lifelong panorama as well as for the immediate experience a person acquires from performing a single occupation. The concept of occupational value is introduced as a prerequisite for meaning, defining three different dimensions: concrete, symbolic, and self-reward value. A dynamic categorisation of single occupations is presented, considering each unique occupational performance viewed from a macro, meso, and a micro perspective, inspired by dynamic systems theory. It is proposed that all occupations are meaningful if they are integrated parts of a person's occupational continuity, and that it is the interaction between the mentioned three perspectives that determines their meaningfulness. With an explicit focus on value and meaning as perceived by the unique person, occupational therapists will become more skilled in designing meaningful occupational therapy interventions. This paper is a contribution to the development of occupational science as well as to occupational therapy, but the theoretical framework presented must be empirically tested in order to demonstrate its validity.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Occupational Therapy


  • Dynamic, Systems, Meaning, Occupational, Categories, Science, Value
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-18
JournalScandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Division of Occupational Therapy (Closed 2012) (013025000)