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    Kathryn Alexander

    B.A., Simon Fraser University




    in the Faculty



    @ Kathryn J. Alexander 1993


    ~ u g u s t 1993

    @J All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced in whole or in part, by photocopy

    or other means, without permission of the author.




    Title of Thesis:

    Kathryn Jean Alexander

    Master of Arts

    "Writing Upwriting Down" a Textual Ethnography: Documentation Practices in a Mental Health Boarding Home

    Examining Committee:

    Chair: Mike Manley-Casimir

    Suzanne decastell Senior Supervisor

    Celia Haig-Brown Associate Professor

    Janet Giltrow Senior Lecturer English Department Simon Fraser University External Examiner

    Date Approved

  • Partial Copyright License

    I hereby grant to Simon Fraser University the right to lend my thesis,

    project or extended essay (the title of which is shown below) to users of

    the Simon Fraser University Library, and to make partial or single copies

    only for such users or in response to a request from the library of any

    other university, or other educational institution, on its own behalf or for

    one of its users. I further agree that permission for multiple copying of

    this work for scholarly purposes may be granted by me or the Dean of

    Graduate Studies. It is understood that copying or publication of this work

    for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.

    Title of Thesis/Project/Extended Essay

    "Writing UpIWriting Down" A Textual Ethnography: Documentation

    Practices in a Mental Health Boarding Home

    Author (signature)

    Kathryn Jean Alexander (name)

    6, / 9 r3 (date)

  • iii


    The purpose of this thesis is to examine documentary

    practices in a specific institution and to critically explore the

    consequences of documentary literacy upon the writers and readers

    of such texts. This thesis seeks to provide analytical frameworks

    to reconceptualize the implications of documentary practices in

    institutions and to make visible the linkages of texts to the

    conceptual relations of ruling.

    The interest here is in a document, the "daily logn, which

    was constructed in a community mental health boarding home.

    Through the textual labour of mental health workers who wrote up

    accounts of their daily work shifts, the log linked the boarding

    home to a matrix of larger social relations. This study seeks to

    trace through the residue of an everyday text, the means by which

    individuals become transformed into Vextually mediated

    identities"; how workers become implicated in Hrelat ions of

    rulingn through their own literate practices; and finally, how

    particular forms of reading and writing may also open up

    possibilities of resistance, creativity and connection within


  • In this thesis I have re-visited the mental health boarding

    home both as a participant observer and as a former reader and

    writer of the log. Reconceptualized as a "textual fieldw the log

    is elucidated through a method of reading which consists of an

    oscillation between the '@fieldw and critical frameworks. Feminist

    deconstruction of psychiatry, the discourse analysis and

    institutional ethnography of Dorothy Smith, and literary

    critiques of ethnography and textuality are deployed to

    investigate constructions of the text as %elfn and "fieldn.

    The log, as a documentary text incorporates institutional,

    ethnographic, and narrative features. HWriting up" describes its

    institutional function as an instrument of control; wWriting

    downn@ examines the textual construction of everyday life. And

    finally, as a nliving utterance", the log is re-visioned as an

    open narrative text which refuses closure and offers a

    multiplicity of voices and readings.

    This thesis argues for a more informed discourse about our

    documentary literate practices within institutions and insists

    upon a measure of critical uncertainty towards documentary texts

    as a means of destabilizing the "conceptual relations of ruling1@.


    This thesis is dedicated to the women of the boarding

    home; both workers and residents whose voices and lives are

    documented within the log. And to Jean, who always resides at the

    heart of my journey.


    I wish to thank Suzanne de Castell for providing the

    intellectual space so that this thesis could grow, and who was

    willing to tolerate uncertainty for such a long time. Many

    thanks to Celia Haig Brown for confirming that the fieldwork is

    never finished so it's just best to get on with the Job. I would

    like to thank my peers, for good advice and patient ears. In

    particular, I am grateful to Barbara Etches and Donna Johnson,

    for being the good midwives that they are. And finally, very

    special thanks to Michael, for always believing and caring, to

    Gordon for letting me tell my own stories, and to Roxana and

    Sylvia for being there too.

  • vii


    Figure 1: (Log Entry) p. 10

    Figure 2: (Content Analysis Aug. 4, 1985) 43

    Figure 3: (Log Entry: Sept. 15, 1987) 55

    Figure 4: (Transcription of Sept. 15, 1987) 90

    Figures 5, 6 (Cartoons-Life in the Comunity) 100, 101

    Figure 7: (Progress notes: Hable) 107

    Figure 8: (Intertextuality in the Log) 122

    Figure 9 (Talking Back and Forth) 169

  • v i i i


    Appr ova 1 Abst rac t Dedica t ion Acknowledgements L i s t of F igures : Table of Contents P r e f a c e "YOU and 1" In t roduc t ion : Wri t ing Up/Writing Down

    A Textua l Ethnography

    Chapter One: Wri t ing Down/A Methodology Feminis t Reading of t h e F i e l d as Text

    A First T e l l i n g

    Chapter Two: Wri t ing up/ Conceptual R e l a t i o n s of Rul ing

    and Feminis t Theory A Second T e l l i n g

    c h a p t e r Three: Wri t ing Up/ And The Rhe to r i c of Management

    Chap te r Four: Wri t ing Down/ G i l l i a n l s story/^ ~ h i r d el ling

    Chapter Five: Wri t ing Down/The P o e t i c s of Care A Four th T e l l i n g

    Bib l iography

    ii i i i v i v

    v i i v i i i

    x i X 1

  • whoever has no house now, v i l l never have one. Whoever is a lone w i l l s t a y a lone, v i l l s it , read, wr i t e long letters through the evening, and wander on the boulevards, up and down, r e s t l e s s l y , whi le the dry l eaves a r e blowing.

    (R i lke , Autumn Day)

  • I am a r e s i d e n t . You r e s i d e . I am admi t ted . You move i n . I am a g g r e s s i v e . You a r e a s s e r t i v e . I have behaviour problems. You are rude. I am noncompliant . You d o n ' t l i k e being t o l d what t o do. When I a s k you o u t f o r d inner , it is a n ou t ing . When you ask

    someone ou t , i t is a d a t e . I d o n ' t know how many people have r e a d t h e p rog res s no te

    people w r i t e about m e . I d o n ' t even know what is i n t h e r e . You d i d n ' t speak t o you b e s t f r i e n d f o r a month a f t e r t h e y

    read your j ou rna l . I made mis takes wi th mu check-wri t ing program. Someday I

    might g e t a bank account . You f o r g o t t o r eco rd some withdrawals from your account. t h e

    bank c a l l e d t o remind you. I wanted t o t a l k wi th t h e n i c e looking person behind us a t

    t h e g roce ry s t o r e . I was t o l d t h a t it was inapprop r i a t e t o t a l k t o s t r a n g e r s .

    You met your spouse i n t h e produce depar tment . They c o u l d n ' t f i n d the bean s p r o u t s .

    I c e l e b r a t e d my b i r t h d a y y e s t e r d a y wi th 5 o t h e r r e s i d e n t s and 2 s t a f f members. I hope my f ami ly s ends a c a r d .

    Your f a m i l y th rew you a s u r p r i s e p a r t y . Your b ro the r c o u l d n ' t make it from ou t of s t a t e . I t sounded wonderful .

    My c a s e manager sends a r e p o r t ca rd e v e r y month t o my guardian. H e s ays eve ry th ing I d i d wrong and some t h i n g s I d i d r i g h t .

    You are still mad a t your s i s t e r f o r c a l l i n g your mom a f t e r you g o t t h a t speed ing t i c k e t .

    I am on a s p e c i a l d i e t because I a m f i v e pounds over my i d e a l weight. Your doc to r gave up t e l l i n g you.

    I am l e a r n i n g household s k i l l s . You h a t e housework. I am l e a r n i n g l e i s u r e s k i l l s . You s h i r t s a y s you are a H ~ o ~