Contingent Voices: An Overview of a Field-Wide Study and Suggestions for Support on Three Levels
Keywords:contingent, non-tenure track, labor, Social Justice
Labor issues are an ongoing concern within the writing studies field; however, while numerous studies discuss this topic, few center the voices of contingent faculty. Emerging from our own experiences as contingent laborers, we developed this CPTSC grant-funded study to identify labor issues in the writing studies field and to enact real change at the programmatic level. Utilizing a nationwide survey, we elicited the experiences of over 250 contingent and non-tenure track (NTT) laborers, including graduate students—a demographic typically excluded from previous studies. Our survey addressed topics such as resources, compensation, support, and frustrations. In this article, we first review the existing literature regarding the abuse of contingent/NTT laborers and describe our IRB-approved study. Then, we categorize our results into three levels: individual, departmental, and institutional. Within each level, we identify several sub-themes. At the individual level, we discuss collegiality and value. At the departmental level, we discuss communication and governance, service and stability, and opportunities and support. At the institutional level, we discuss salary and recognition as well as care and support. We conclude our article by offering concrete suggestions that can improve the working conditions of contingent laborers at each of these levels.