Building and Mobilizing Social Capital: A Phenomenological Study of Part-time Professors

  • Sarah Jamieson Department of Communication University of Ottawa
  • Jenepher Lennox Terrion Department of CommunicationUniversity of Ottawa


This paper explores the experiences of new part-time professors (instructors hired on a semester-by-semester basis that have been working at the institution for less than five years) and considers the phenomenon of how they connect with peers. It examines whether a lack of connection exists among part-time professors at the University of Ottawa and how this may affect their experience (i.e. teaching and career), lead to barriers to connection, and affect their social capital (i.e., their ability to access or use resources embedded in their social networks). Using Moustakas’ (1994) phenomenological approach for collecting and analyzing data and Creswell’s (2007) approach for establishing validity, we uncovered several thematic patterns in participants’ experience that indicate barriers to connection and affect the ability to access and mobilize social capital: Feeling uncertain or impermanent, isolated, overwhelmed, and like second-class citizens. The paper concludes that inadequate social capital may not only influence part-time professors – it may also have problematic implications for students, the department, and the University as a whole.

Keywords: Social capital, barriers to communication, phenomenology, qualitative methods, part-time professors

How to Cite
Jamieson, S., & Terrion, J. (2016). Building and Mobilizing Social Capital: A Phenomenological Study of Part-time Professors. Stream: Interdisciplinary Journal of Communication, 8(2), 57-70. Retrieved from