Imagined futures: Occupation as a means of repair following biographical disruption in the lives of refugees

Helen Claire Hart*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The transitions associated with forced migration create extensive disruption to the daily lives of refugees. Such change affects opportunities, expectations, and identity in ways associated with the concepts of occupational and biographical disruption. Biographical disruption reflects the way an individual’s life path is changed by illness, injury, or social circumstances; and occupational disruption focuses on the impact of change on occupational aspects of the individual’s life path. This article explores the findings from a phenomenological study of the lived experiences of 10 refugees from Africa and the Middle East who had sought asylum in the United Kingdom. They were invited to share their experiences through a series of up to three conversational interviews, which were analysed using the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method. Findings illustrate the impact of disruption and the potential for occupation to help promote a sense of constancy and biographical repair. Participants highlighted how important occupation was to their experience of biographical disruption. They reflected on how their drive to achieve constancy across their life path encouraged their return to valued, familiar occupations, which provided a means of repair following disruption. This information offers insight into the scope of disruption faced by refugees, and how the major changes in their life path influence and are influenced by occupation. Readers are encouraged to consider how they could help to reduce feelings of disruption and enable refugees to retain a better sense of their imagined future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-36
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Occupational Science
Issue number1
Early online date27 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2023


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