Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Patricia Davis

Second Advisor

Carrie Packwood Freeman

Third Advisor

Marian Meyers

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer Esposito


This study explored how Black women academics (BWA) use formal and informal networks to overcome cultural violence and social injustices within the academy. BWA documentation of the hegemonic pressures of the universal teacher myth in the classroom and troublesome interactions with fellow faculty members offer scholars the opportunity to question how BWA foster and maintain beneficial networks of support. The researcher used social capital theory evolution to fictive kin networks (FKN) to frame the study. The FKN framework allowed the researcher to understand how the strength of network ties helps BWA create and maintain beneficial systems. Through the lens of selected principles from Black feminist thought (BFT), intersectionality, and Critical Race Theory (CRT), I use personal narratives taken from my reflexive analytic autoethnography and fifteen interviews of BWA who are part of either formal or informal networks.

Data analysis was conducted through a modified purposeful constant comparative method to fulfill the primary goal of the study to offer a realistic process of network creation. The findings of this study indicated BWA are part of diverse networks through deliberate interactions that create individual benefits. The findings challenged the notion that informal networks were more beneficial than a formal network. This exploratory study created a direct linkage to BWA and FKN, as well as introduced the concept of a network circle to aid BWA to overcome hegemonic pressures experienced in the academy.