Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management.

Publication Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, 8(2): 181-200.


Purpose – Exploring experiences of participants on an Irish active labour market programme, the purpose of this paper is to examine accounts of everyday forms of resistance to the subject positions offered in the dominant discourse of “doing employment” espoused on such schemes.

Design/methodology/approach – Employing narrative research, the process of individual opposition to established work routines is illustrated at the level of meaning, identity and self reflection by using the three-dimensional narrative inquiry space to chronicle three participants’ stories. Their newly formed subjectivities (created by changes encountered in their past lives and the situations they are experiencing in their present realities) challenge the power of the dominant discourse of ‘doing employment’ on these schemes. The paper illustrates how the individuals respond when confronted with feelings of difference between the subject positions offered within the dominant discourse and their own preferred interest.

Findings – Their stories suggest different forms of micro-political resistance, from subtle acts and behaviours through to contesting subjectivities and meanings. The article describes how they exercise power in imposing their own meanings through challenge and reinscription, thus rendering the dominant discourse less robust. This creates space for further challenge and reinscription, possibly enabling others to think differently, such as the author, who has moved from unquestioning acceptance of the dominant discourse to an emerging micro-political resistance to “doing employment”.

Originality/value – These accounts highlight the relevance of using narrative research to reveal, heretofore, silent stories of how individual work routines disrupt prevailing institutional discourse, depicting situations where a story by challenges a story of.