The Other Professors: Job Insecurity, Health and Coping Strategies among Contractual University Teachers

Lay Summary 

The rationalization of faculty work in Canadian universities has spurred a notable expansion of contractual teaching since the 1980s, as administrations strategically use ‘sessional’, ‘adjunct’, or ‘contractual’ positions to meet faculty budget shortfalls. My doctoral fieldwork is a qualitative study of the occupational health challenges of the attendant job insecurity for a convenience sample of 32 contractual university teachers in Atlantic Canada during 2008. Participants’ primary source of income was from contractual university teaching. They identified three main sources of insecurity in their work: administrative hiring practices, their status and marginalization in the academic hierarchy, and the terms of their financial remuneration.

Using both survey and open-ended interview data, I explored the daily experience of these sources of job insecurity, how they translated into occupational health issues, and how participants coped with the challenges raised by these health issues. My study adds qualitative detail to what has predominantly been a quantitative area of research in occupational health and it informs comment on such sociological theories as the rationalization of hiring, professional integration and exclusion, the deprofessionalization and feminization of contingent work, and the individualization of risk.

Occupational Health and Safety
Social Issues
Worker's Rights
Industry Sectors 
Start date 
1 Jan 2008
End date 
31 Dec 2013