This paper introduces institutional ethnography (IE) as a useful and systematic process for examining organizations and work data through the lens of stakeholders, at different levels, and considering the different forces at play. Drawing from ethnomethodology, IE focuses on how everyday experience is socially organized. Ideological shifts have changed the view of research as purely technical and rational to one of social practice embedded in particular cultural, political, and historical contexts. Research has translated into partially unsuccessful practice because it negates individuals' unique experiences based on race, ethnicity, class, and gender, allowing for a monolithic view to become the given reality for all those who live in today’s society. Because adult vocational education is practiced in a highly charged political context, amongst a nexus of interconnected and interdependent social processes such as federal and state legislation, program funding and planning, literacy work, and employment training, discourse sets the parameters for a person’s ability or inability to navigate the structural and political subsystems that impact learning, teaching, and work. Power is critically important as an analytic focus which crosses boundaries providing researchers a view of social organization that illuminates practices that marginalize.