Stories of our working lives: Literacy, power, & storytelling in the academic workplace

Melissa Kapadia-Bodi, University of Pennsylvania


In this study, I conducted research on my own workplace. My data included interviews, anecdotes small group sessions, and ongoing experiences in the workplace. In the process of conducting this research, I developed chronic illness methodology, a methodological approach that views research as an embodied project, acknowledges researchers’ bodies and lived experiences as central to the research process, and asks participants to take up space in the research process. This methodology encouraged a deep concern for my participants’ well-being throughout the research and writing, and enabled a focus throughout the dissertation on featuring participants’ stories of their working lives. Through this work, I was able to examine how my participant colleagues, who were academic support staff members at a graduate school of education in an ivy institution, experienced literacy and power in the workplace. Specifically, I found that (a) academic support staff members’ jobs required them to theorize power in the workplace; (b) their workplace epistemologies and theories of power enabled them to use work literacy practices as tools of resistance to combat bureaucracy and workplace violence; and (c) they used storytelling as a critical workplace literacy practice to challenge and disrupt dominant workplace ideologies, craft counter-narratives, bear witness to and validate colleagues’ experiences, and create spaces for traditionally unheard stories and voices.

Subject Area

Epistemology|Higher Education Administration|Literacy|Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

Kapadia-Bodi, Melissa, "Stories of our working lives: Literacy, power, & storytelling in the academic workplace" (2016). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI10158578.