Occupational injustice derives from the concept of occupational justice, which originated in 1997 with social scientists/ occupational therapists Ann Wilcock of Australia and Elizabeth Townsend of Canada.[1] As a particular application of social justice, occupational injustice occurs when a person is denied, excluded from or deprived of opportunity to pursue meaningful occupations or when unchosen occupations are imposed upon them [2][3] thus limiting life satisfaction.[3][4] The construct of occupational rights stems from human rights but focuses on the inherent right of individuals to participate in occupations, construed as their personally meaningful and goal-directed use of time. Through this participation, occupational rights contribute to fulfillment and self-actualization.[2] Groups of people that may be vulnerable to experiencing occupational injustices include cultural, religious, and ethnic minority groups, child labourers, the unemployed, prisoners, persons with substance use disorder,[5] residents of institutions,[6] refugees, and/or women.[3]

There are several categories of occupational injustice:

The role of occupational therapists working with this population involves advocating for justice to ensure that the occupational rights of clients are fulfilled.[3][9] More specifically, this includes ensuring that individuals are given equal opportunities to engage in meaningful occupations. Occupational therapists collaborate with their clients to form goals and objectives that give way to social inclusion, and focus on client-centered therapy in order to allow individuals to participate in occupations of their choosing.[9] Advocacy by practitioners and researchers can include funding for the underprivileged, all-inclusive research that encompasses excluded populations, bringing occupational therapy services to developing countries, and conscious advocacy with schools, transportation systems, government, corrections, higher education, and worldwide systems.[2][9] Occupational therapists can also address occupational injustices through increasing awareness of injustices, providing occupation-focused services, and promoting collaboration with those experiencing injustices as well as other relevant stakeholders such as community organizations, government programs, or other professionals.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Stadnyk, Robin L., Townsend, Elizabeth A, & Wilcock, Ann A. (2010). Occupational justice. In Christiansen, C.H. & Townsend, E.A.(Eds). Introduction to Occupation-The Art and Science of Living. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.(pp. 329-358).
  2. ^ a b c d Simó-Algado, S., Mehta, N., Kronenberg, F., Cockburn, L., & Kirsh, B. (2002). Occupational therapy intervention with children survivors of war. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(4), 205-217.
  3. ^ a b c d e Whiteford, G. (2000). Occupational deprivation: Global challenge in the new millennium. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 63(5), 200-204.
  4. ^ Hammell, K. R. W., & Iwama, M. K. (2012). Well-being and occupational rights: An imperative for critical occupational therapy. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 19(5), 385-394.
  5. ^ Alexander, B. K. (2008). The globalisation of addiction: A study in poverty of the spirit. Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ Whiteford, G., Jones, K., Weekes, G., Ndlovu, N., Long, C., Perkes, D., & Brindle, S. (2020). Combatting occupational deprivation and advancing occupational justice in institutional settings: Using a practice-based enquiry approach for service transformation. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 83(1), 52–61. https://doi.org/10.1177/0308022619865223
  7. ^ Illman, Sarah C.; Spence, Sandy; O’Campo, Patricia J.; Kirsh, Bonnie H. (October 2013). "Exploring the occupations of homeless adults living with mental illnesses in Toronto / Explorer les occupations d'adultes sans-abri atteints de maladies mentales vivant à Toronto". Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy. 80 (4): 215–223. doi:10.1177/0008417413506555. ISSN 0008-4174.
  8. ^ Abson, Deborah (2019-04-24). "Occupational Deprivation". The OT Hub. Retrieved 2022-07-31.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Townsend, E., & Wilcock, A. A. (2004). Occupational justice and client-centred practice: A dialogue in progress. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(2), 75-87.
  10. ^ Anaby, Dana; Jarus, Tal; Backman, Catherine L.; Zumbo, Bruno D. (June 2010). "The Role of Occupational Characteristics and Occupational Imbalance in Explaining Well-being". Applied Research in Quality of Life. 5 (2): 81–104. doi:10.1007/s11482-010-9094-6. ISSN 1871-2584.
  11. ^ Pizarro, E., Estrella, S., Figueroa, F., Helmke, F., Pontigo, C., & Whiteford, G. (2018). Understanding occupational justice from the concept of territory: A proposal for occupational science. Journal of Occupational Science, 25(4), 463–473. https://doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2018.1487261
  12. ^ Occupational Therapy Australia (2016). OT Australia position statement: Occupational deprivation. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 63(6), 445–447. https://doi/10.1111/1440-1630.12347