There have been several attempts to produce an authoritative classification scheme capable of discriminating between 'occupation', 'activity', 'task', 'action' and so on, but no consensus has ever been achieved. This paper tries to diagnose the reasons for this failure to arrive at a satisfactory method of classifying different levels of occupational activity. The paper begins with a detailed analysis of the Taxonomic Code for Occupational Performance (TCOP), the most recent attempt to produce such a scheme, and suggests that it has a number of counterintuitive implications. These are, however, rooted in a deeper problem, one which underlies not only the TCOP project but all attempts to classify occupational behaviour. Ultimately, it is argued, the classification agenda is misconceived, because it rests on the assumption that occupational terms represent real structures in the world: that they reflect (or should reflect) the way in which human doing is intrinsically divided into levels, units, sets or clusters. It is this assumption that the authors believe to be mistaken, for there is no 'intrinsic division' to which occupational terms can be assigned. The paper concludes by proposing a form of analysis which, it is argued, should replace classification schemes: in-order-to analysis (IOTA). This kind of analysis, which is explained and illustrated, seeks to determine the relations between various goals that the client has and the things that he or she must be able to do in order to achieve them. It is suggested that IOTA is what various attempts at classification have been groping for, but that it captures occupational therapy's characteristic form of clinical reasoning far more effectively.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: April 1, 2006
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The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.
BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at http://www.cot.co.uk/british-journal-bjot/british-journal-occupational-therapy
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