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A Cross Cultural Study of the Literacy Practices of the Dabbawalas: Towards a New Understanding of Nonmainstream Literacy and its Impact on Successful Business Practices
Krishnan, Uma S

2014, PHD, Kent State University, College of Arts and Sciences / Department of English.
Abstract



Krishnan, Uma., Ph.D., December 2014 English

A CROSS CULTURAL STUDY OF THE LITERACY PRACTICES OF THE DABBAWALAS:
TOWARDS A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF NONMAINSTREAM LITERACY AND ITS IMPACT ON SUCESSFUL BUSINESS PRACTICES ( 204 PP.)

Dissertation Advisor : Brian Huot


This dissertation examines the literacy practices of the lunch box carriers in India. The 5000 Mumbai Dabbawalas (DW), pick up and deliver 400,000 lunch boxes with close to one hundred percent timely accuracy. Western and Eastern researchers have praised the DW for their business acumen, even as they deprecated the literacy levels of the DW, themselves. This study employed multiple data streams, including videotape of interviews, observations and shadowing focused on the literate practices of the DW. An analysis of over six hundred pages of coded, transcribed and translated data reveal that the DW use a variety of literacies, specific to their community and relevant for their business goals and objectives. The invention and use of their coding system for lunch box delivery and return is embedded in the geographical location, situation, context of transaction, language, cultural rhetorics, and social practices (Street, 1984; Barton and Hamilton, 1998; Gee, 2000). This code allows the DW to harness the logistical power of the Mumbai Railroad for their business purposes. Ironically, this study ultimately argues that the DW’s business success is not in spite of their low literacy levels, but because they can use multiple literacies to ensure customer communication. The study concludes with a call for Western and Eastern researchers to reconsider their methods and conclusions while examining cross-cultural literacy research.
Brian Huot (Committee Chair)
Pamela Takayoshi (Committee Member)
Iswari Pandey (Committee Member)
Joanne Dowdy (Committee Member)
Jocelyn Folk (Committee Member)
204 p.

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Krishnan, U. (2014). A Cross Cultural Study of the Literacy Practices of the Dabbawalas: Towards a New Understanding of Nonmainstream Literacy and its Impact on Successful Business Practices. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Krishnan, Uma. "A Cross Cultural Study of the Literacy Practices of the Dabbawalas: Towards a New Understanding of Nonmainstream Literacy and its Impact on Successful Business Practices." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Kent State University, 2014. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 22 Oct 2018.

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Krishnan, Uma "A Cross Cultural Study of the Literacy Practices of the Dabbawalas: Towards a New Understanding of Nonmainstream Literacy and its Impact on Successful Business Practices." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Kent State University, 2014. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Full text release has been delayed at the author's request until May 08, 2020