Despite the increasing popularity of discussions of resilience in disciplines as diverse as ecology, psychology, economics, architecture, and genetics (among many others), researchers still lack a conceptual model to explain how the resilience of one system relates to the resilience of other cooccurring systems. Models that explain resilience within a single system are more robust and better studied. Although some researchers argue that both ontological and epistemological weaknesses prevent such an integrated model from being developed (the incommensurability hypothesis), others have carried out metasyntheses using techniques like network citation analysis to identify common principles and processes that are associated with resilience across disciplines. Although useful, metasyntheses have yet to identify sufficient commonalities across bodies of research to account for a single model of resilience. This paper adapts methods used for the thematic synthesis of qualitative data to critically analyze metasyntheses of resilience and identify principles that explain patterns of resilience of different systems (biological, psychological, social, cultural, economic, legal, communication, and ecological systems are all considered). Sixteen purposefully selected published syntheses were reviewed, along with dozens of other supporting peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, supplemented by consultations with knowledge experts. Seven common principles across systems were identified. These include: (1) resilience occurs in contexts of adversity; (2) resilience is a process; (3) there are trade-offs between systems when a system experiences resilience; (4) a resilient system is open, dynamic, and complex; (5) a resilient system promotes connectivity; (6) a resilient system demonstrates experimentation and learning; and (7) a resilient system includes diversity, redundancy, and participation. Where evidence refutes a principle, discordant findings are highlighted. Together, these principles account for resilience as a sequence of systemic interdependent interactions through which actors (whether persons, organisms, or ecosystems) secure the resources required for sustainability in stressed environments.
As disasters escalate in frequency and severity, children and youth are among those most at risk for resulting adverse psychological, social, health, and educational effects. Although there is growing interest in the vulnerabilities and capacities of youth who have experienced disaster, research focusing on their lived experiences during the recovery period remains sparse. In response to this knowledge gap, youth between the ages of 13–22 were invited to participate in workshops spanning one to four days, where they used art, music, photography, videography, and other means to articulate their experiences of post-disaster recovery. The research took place in four disaster-affected communities in the United States and Canada, including Joplin, Slave Lake, Calgary, and High River. Youth stories revealed key people, places, and activities that supported their recovery, and the mechanisms through which those supports had a positive impact. Examining youth perspectives is important to concretize and contextualize theories of disaster recovery.
As research on young people’s disaster experiences is accumulating, one important yet understudied factor underlying their vulnerability and resilience is their connection to certain places. Youth affected by the 2013 floods in Southern Alberta, Canada, provided photographs of places important to their flood experiences and engaged in peer-to-peer interviews to discuss place loss and place-based strength. Damaged or changed places disrupted youth’s reliance on place for activities, resources, social ties, sense of continuity, and a connection to the past. Places provided strength when they offered escape from the postdisaster chaos, enabled youth to contribute to recovery, supported physical and psychological need satisfaction, and symbolized strength, renewal, or hope. These findings demonstrate the relevance of place to youth’s disaster experiences and inform future qualitative and quantitative work in this area.
The theory of differential susceptibility is helping to explain how genetic, neurological and personality factors affect individual mental and physical health and why interventions work better with certain populations. As social workers, however, our focus is more on the impact of the social determinants of health found in people’s environments and the nuanced way external factors influence psychological treatment outcomes and human development over time rather than genotypes and phenotypes. This article discusses differential impact theory (DIT) as a complementary theory to differential susceptibility in an effort to make both theories relevant to social work practice. After a brief summary of the differential susceptibility research, I draw from studies of psycho-social interventions and Person × Environment interactions to show that responsibility for positive adaptation resides within the systems that surround individuals just as much as, and possibly more than, within individuals themselves. DIT provides a more balanced explanation than differential susceptibility theory alone for why clinical and community interventions and changes to social policy can have a positive influence on psycho-social outcomes. The implications of DIT are discussed with regard to the design and delivery of psychological and social interventions.
Youth have historically been understudied in disaster research and largely excluded in practice. Yet, a growing body of evidence suggests that they want to be actively engaged, and when they are, can contribute in myriad ways to disaster preparedness, response, and recovery processes. This field report describes the Youth Creating Disaster Recovery and Resilience (YCDR2) project—a Canadian-United States applied research initiative aimed at learning from and with youth ages 13–22 about their disaster experiences. The project used creative and arts-based methods to engage youth in participatory workshops held in disaster-affected communities. Key findings, research and implementation challenges, successes, and lessons learned are discussed.
OBJECTIVES: To provide opportunities for intergenerational knowledge sharing for healthy lifestyles; to facilitate youth and Elder mentorship; and to increase the self-esteem of youth by celebrating identity, cultural practices and community connection through the creation and sharing of digital stories.
PARTICIPANTS: A youth research team (8 youth) aged 13–25, youth participants (60 core participants and 170 workshop participants) and Elders (14) from First Nations communities.
SETTING: The project was conducted with participants from several communities on Vancouver Island through on-site workshops and presentations.
INTERVENTION: Youth and Elders were invited to a 3-day digital story workshop consisting of knowledge-sharing sessions by Elders and digital story training by the youth research team. Workshop attendees returned to their communities to develop stories. The group re-convened at the university to create digital stories focused on community connections, family histories and healthy lifestyles. During the following year the research team delivered instructional sessions in communities on the digital story process.
OUTCOMES: The youth involved reported increased pride in community as well as new or enhanced relationships with Elders.
CONCLUSIONS: The digital stories method facilitated intergenerational interactions and engaged community members in creating a digital representation of healthy lifestyles. The process itself is an intervention, as it affords critical reflection on historical, cultural and spiritual ideas of health and what it means to be healthy in an Aboriginal community. It is a particularly relevant health promotion tool in First Nations communities with strong oral history traditions.
Background: Children and youth emerge as key populations that are impacted by energy resource activities, in part because of their developmental vulnerabilities, as well as the compounding effects of energy systems on their families, communities, and physical environments. While there is a larger literature focused on fossil fuel emissions and children, the impacts of many aspects of energy systems on children and youth remain under examined and scattered throughout the health, social science, and environmental science literatures. Objectives: This systematic interdisciplinary review examines the biological, psychosocial, and economic impacts of energy systems identified through social science research – specifically focused on household and industrial extraction and emissions – on children and youth functioning. Methods: A critical interpretive search of interdisciplinary and international social sciences literature was conducted using an adaptive protocol focusing on the biopsychosocial and economic impacts of energy systems on children and youth. The initial results were complemented with a purposeful search to extend the breadth and depth of the final collection of articles. Discussion: Although relatively few studies have specifically focused on children and youth in this context, the majority of this research uncovers a range of negative health impacts that are directly and indirectly related to the development and ongoing operations of natural resource production, particularly oil and gas, coal, and nuclear energy. Psychosocial and cultural effects, however, remain largely unexamined and provide a rich avenue for further research. Conclusions: This synthesis identifies an array of adverse biopsychosocial health outcomes on children and youth of energy resource extraction and emissions, and identifies gaps that will drive future research in this area.
Children and youth often demonstrate resilience and capacity in the face of disasters. Yet, they are typically not given the opportunities to engage in youth-driven research and lack access to official channels through which to contribute their perspectives to policy and practice during the recovery process. To begin to fill this void in research and action, this multi-site research project engaged youth from disaster-affected communities in Canada and the United States. This article presents a flexible youth-centric workshop methodology that uses participatory and arts-based methods to elicit and explore youth’s disaster and recovery experiences. The opportunities and challenges associated with initiating and maintaining partnerships, reciprocity and youth-adult power differentials using arts-based methods, and sustaining engagement in post-disaster settings, are discussed. Ultimately, this work contributes to further understanding of the methods being used to conduct research for, with, and about youth.
- Increased interest in managing resilience has led to efforts to develop standardized tools for assessments and quantitative measures. Resilience, however, as a property of complex adaptive systems, does not lend itself easily to measurement. Whereas assessment approaches tend to focus on deepening understanding of system dynamics, resilience measurement aims to capture and quantify resilience in a rigorous and repeatable way.
- We discuss the strengths, limitations and trade-offs involved in both assessing and measuring resilience, as well as the relationship between the two. We use a range of disciplinary perspectives to draw lessons on distilling complex concepts into useful metrics.
- Measuring and monitoring a narrow set of indicators or reducing resilience to a single unit of measurement may block the deeper understanding of system dynamics needed to apply resilience thinking and inform management actions.
- Synthesis and applications. Resilience assessment and measurement can be complementary. In both cases it is important that: (i) the approach aligns with how resilience is being defined, (ii) the application suits the specific context and (iii) understanding of system dynamics is increased. Ongoing efforts to measure resilience would benefit from the integration of key principles that have been identified for building resilience.
Place attachment is important for children and youth’s disaster preparedness, experiences, recovery, and resilience, but most of the literature on place and disasters has focused on adults. Drawing on the community disaster risk reduction, recovery, and resilience literature as well as the literature on normative place attachment, children and youth’s place-relevant disaster experiences are examined. Prior to a disaster, place attachments are postulated to enhance children and youth’s disaster preparedness contributions and reinforce their pre-disaster resilience. During a disaster, damage of, and displacement from, places of importance can create significant emotional distress among children and youth. Following a disaster, pre-existing as well as new place ties can aid in their recovery and bolster their resilience moving forward. This framework enriches current theories of disaster recovery, resilience, and place attachment, and sets an agenda for future research.
Theories of youth resilience neglect youths’ lived experiences of what facilitates positive adjustment to hardship. The Pathways-to-Resilience Study addressed this by inviting Canadian, Chinese, Colombian, New Zealand and South African (SA) youths to share their resilience-related knowledge. In this article I report the challenges endemic to the rural, resource-poor, South African research site that complicated this Pathways ideal. I illustrate that blind application of a multi-country study design, albeit well-designed, potentially excludes youths with inaccessible parents, high mobility, and/or cellular telephone contact details. Additionally, I show that one-on-one interview methods do not serve Sesotho-speaking youths well, and that the inclusion of adult ‘insiders’ in a research team does not guarantee regard for local youths’ insights. I comment critically on how these challenges were addressed and use this to propose seven lessons that are likely to inform, and support, youth-advantaging qualitative research in similar majority-world contexts.
As both the societies and the world in which we live face increasingly rapid and turbulent changes, the concept of resilience has become an active and important research area. Reflecting the very latest research, this book provides a critical review of the ways in which resilience of social-ecological systems, and the ecosystem services they provide, can be enhanced. With contributions from leaders in the field, the chapters are structured around seven key principles for building resilience: maintain diversity and redundancy; manage connectivity; manage slow variables and feedbacks; foster complex adaptive systems thinking; encourage learning; broaden participation; and promote polycentric governance. The authors assess the evidence in support of these principles, discussing their practical application and outlining further research needs. Intended for researchers, practitioners and graduate students, this is an ideal resource for anyone working in resilience science and for those in the broader fields of sustainability science, environmental management and governance.
Extant theories of resilience, or the process of adjusting well to adversity, privilege the voices of minority-world young people. Consequently, the resilience of marginalized, majority-world youth is imperfectly understood, and majority-world social ecologies struggle to facilitate resilience in ways that respect the insights of majority-world youth and their cultural and contextual positioning. Accordingly, this article makes audible, as it were, the voices of 181 rural, Black, South African adolescents with the purpose of explicating which resilience-supporting processes characterize their positive adjustment to disadvantaged life-worlds, and how contextual and cultural realities shape such processes. Deductive and inductive analyses of a narrative and visual data set, generated in the qualitative phase of an explanatory mixed-methods study, revealed that universally occurring resilience-supporting mechanisms inform positive adjustment. Importantly, which mechanisms these youth prioritized, and the form these mechanisms take, are shaped by contextual realities of absent men and commonplace suffering, and a cultural reality of strong women, human and spiritual care, and valorization of education. Attention to these adolescents’ voices not only prompts specific, culturally and contextually relevant leverage points for resilience but also reinforces the importance of attending to young people’s preferred pathways of resilience in order to understand and champion resilience in socially just ways.
While we know much about patterns of family resilience, most of our research and clinical discussion has focused on microsystemic, intrafamilial protective processes. We have far fewer maps of the bidirectional interactions between families and other systems that contribute to successful family adaptation in challenging contexts. The purpose of this article is to address this gap in knowledge and present a map of family resilience that is both systemic and contextually and culturally responsive. Seven specific patterns of family resilience are reviewed. Combined, they account for the varied adaptational patterns families use to nurture and sustain resilience. The article concludes with reflection on how we can assess family resilience and the application of this map to family therapy.
This article describes the development and field testing of the Rural Resilience Index (RRI), an applied disaster resilience assessment index for use in rural and remote communities. The index was generated as part of the Rural Disaster Resilience Project. This community-centered action research project was designed to respond to the global emphasis on increasing the capacity of all communities, large and small, to meet the growing challenge of disasters, climate change, and other threats. The goals of the project were to produce resilience assessment and planning tools that could be used by communities to generate locally relevant data on their current resilience and be able to monitor and enhance their resilience over time. This article describes the development and field testing of the RRI, which is designed as a user-friendly, process-based, qualitative resilience assessment tool. The RRI emphasizes the value of citizen engagement in resilience planning and a whole-of-community approach to resilience addressing issues such as the quality and availability of local resources, expertise, skills, and services; governance issues; economic and employment issues; culture; disaster preparedness; and emergency management planning.
Objective To examine the perceptions of residents, nurses, and physicians about the effect of a regional family practice residency site on the delivery of health services in the community, as well as on the community health care providers.
Design Interviews and focus groups were conducted.
Setting Nanaimo, BC.
Participants A total of 16 residents, 15 nurses, and 20 physicians involved with the family practice residency training program at the Nanaimo site.
Methods A series of semistructured interviews and focus groups was conducted. Transcripts of interviews and focus groups were analyzed thematically by the research team.
The past two decades have seen increased attention to both the experiences of children and the resilience processes that facilitate their well-being and positive outcomes. Understanding the nuances in the similarities and differences of these processes across contexts and cultures is an imperative of our work as researchers and must inform our approach to research design. The inclusion of children in research as both collaborators and participants presents exciting opportunities to identify the obscured and unnamed processes that bolster their positive outcomes. This chapter discusses the use of mixed methods when conducting research with children across cultures and contexts. The focus is specifically on an iterative approach that integrates community comment into the design so as to enhance contextual relevance. Special focus is given to the integration of children’s perspectives in this process. We draw on the experiences of studies conducted at the Resilience Research Centre to illustrate the proposed process.
With growing interest in resilience among mental health care providers globally, there is a need for a simple way to consider the complex interactions that predict adaptive coping when there is exposure to high levels of adversity such as family violence, mental illness of a child or caregiver, natural disasters, social marginalization, or political conflict.
The contribution peer relationships make to positive adolescent development is well recognized. Accordingly, peer problem measures typically assess youth with few age-appropriate peers as having peer problems. Yet, youth facing high levels of personal and/or social adversity may reduce their association with antisocial peers as part of coping or risk mitigation strategies. While such strategies will result in higher scores on peer problem measures, they may also facilitate resilience and constitute a resource social workers can draw on in their work with youth. To test this proposition of peer adaptation as a risk mitigation strategy, mixed-methods data relating to two groups of youth who were exposed to different levels of adversity were compared on a standardized peer problem measure and a range of risk measures. Qualitative interviews extended this data and explored vulnerable youth perceptions of social withdrawal as a coping strategy. Results from the survey and qualitative data indicated that a subgroup of youth facing high levels of adversity restricted association with antisocial peers to reduce their behavioural risks. However, without adequate support from adults in both formal support systems and youths’ social ecologies to compensate for the loss of peer friendships, this strategy did not reduce behavioural risk in the medium term. The social withdrawal strategy also appeared to heighten mental health concerns for these youth. The implications of this finding for the development of policy and practice with vulnerable youth are discussed.
Very little research has examined the relationship between resilience, risk, and the service use patterns of adolescents with complex needs who use multiple formal and mandated services such as child welfare, mental health, juvenile justice, and special educational supports. This article reports on a study of 497 adolescents in Atlantic Canada who were known to have used at least 2 of these services in the last 6 months. It was hypothesized that greater service use and satisfaction with services would predict both resilience, and better functional outcomes such as prosocial behavior, school engagement and participation in community.
This article reviews the relationship between factors associated with resilience, and aspects of the individual’s social ecology (environment) that promote and protect against the negative impact of exposure to traumatic events. It is shown that the Environment × Individual interactions related to resilience can be understood using three principles: (1) Resilience is not as much an individual construct as it is a quality of the environment and its capacity to facilitate growth (nurture trumps nature); (2) resilience looks both the same and different within and between populations, with the mechanisms that predict positive growth sensitive to individual, contextual, and cultural variation (differential impact); and (3) the impact that any single factor has on resilience differs by the amount of risk exposure, with the mechanisms that protect against the impact of trauma showing contextual and cultural specificity for particular individuals (cultural variation). A definition of resilience is provided that highlights the need for environments to facilitate the navigations and negotiations of individuals for the resources they need to cope with adversity. The relative nature of resilience is discussed, emphasizing that resilience can manifest as either prosocial behaviors or pathological adaptation depending on the quality of the environment.
Biggs, R., Schlüter, M., Biggs, D., Bohensky, E.L., Burnsilver, S., Cundill, G., Dakos, V., Daw, T., Evans, L., Kotschy, K., Leitch, A., Meek, C., Quinlan, A., Raudsepp-Hearne, C., Robards, M., Schoon, M.L., Schultz, L., & West, P.C. (2012) Towards principles for enhancing the resilience of ecosystem services. Annual Review of Environment and Resources: 37, 421-448.
Enhancing the resilience of ecosystem services (ES) that underpin human well-being is critical for meeting current and future societal needs, and requires specific governance and management policies. Using the literature, we identify seven generic policy-relevant principles for enhancing the resilience of desired ES in the face of disturbance and ongoing change in social-ecological systems (SES). These principles are (P1) maintain diversity and redundancy, (P2) manage connectivity, (P3) manage slow variables and feedbacks, (P4) foster an understanding of SES as complex adaptive systems (CAS), (P5) encourage learning and experimentation, (P6) broaden participation, and (P7) promote polycentric governance systems. We briefly define each principle, review how and when it enhances the resilience of ES, and conclude with major research gaps. In practice, the principles often co-occur and are highly interdependent. Key future needs are to better understand these interdependencies and to operationalize and apply the principles in different policy and management contexts.
The study of resilience adds support to an understanding of mental health as comprising two interdependent but crisscrossing dimensions of functioning: disorder (which includes mental illness and impaired abilities) and wellbeing (positive indicators of mental health like self-esteem, efficacy, and optimism)(Keyes, 2002; Reich and Zautra, 1988). A focus on resilience shifts attention from the suppression or treatment of disorder to the processes that enhance wellbeing among populations under stress.
In this paper we draw on the findings of a critical, multi-sited ethnographic study of two rural communities affected by a wildfire in British Columbia, Canada to examine the salience of place, identity, and social capital to the disaster recovery process and community disaster resilience. We argue that a reconfiguration of disaster recovery is required that more meaningfully considers the role of place in the disaster recovery process and opens up the space for a more reflective and intentional consideration of the disorientation and disruption associated with disasters and our organized response to that disorientation. We describe a social-psychological process, reorientation, in which affected individuals and communities navigate the psychological, social and emotional responses to the symbolic and material changes to social and geographic place that result from the fire’s destruction. The reorientation process emphasizes the critical importance of place not only as an orienting framework in recovery but also as the ground upon which social capital and community disaster resilience are built. This approach to understanding and responding to the disorientation of disasters has implications for community psychologists and other service providers engaged in supporting disaster survivors. This includes the need to consider the complex dynamic of contextual and cultural factors that influence the disaster recovery process.
Studies that focus on community-level factors associated with the resilience of youth and families reflect a shift in perspective from community deficits to the potential of communities to facilitate the mobilization of human and physical resources. Physical and social capital (both informal relationships and formal service provision) give communities the potential to recover from dramatic change, sustain their adaptability, and support new growth. This paper reviews key concepts such as these as they relate to how young people access informal supports and formal services that promote resilience. A discussion of the relevant research highlights the way protective processes function when children, youth and families are exposed to catastrophic human-made and natural events. Five principles are suggested to help promote community resilience. Implications for the design and implementation of interventions are discussed with a focus on making informal supports more available and formal services coordinated, continuous, co-located, negotiated, culturally relevant and effective.
More than two decades after E. E. Werner and R. S. Smith (1982), N. Garmezy (1983), and M. Rutter (1987) published their research on protective mechanisms and processes that are most likely to foster resilience, ambiguity continues regarding how to define and operationalize positive development under adversity. This article argues that, because resilience occurs even when risk factors are plentiful, greater emphasis needs to be placed on the role social and physical ecologies play in positive developmental outcomes when individuals encounter significant amounts of stress. Four principles are presented as the basis for an ecological interpretation of the resilience construct: decentrality, complexity, atypicality, and cultural relativity. These 4 principles, and the research upon which they are based, inform a definition of resilience that emphasizes the environmental antecedents of positive growth. This framework can guide future theory development, research, and the design of interventions that promote well‐being among populations who experience environments that inhibit resilience‐promoting processes.
Findings from a 14 site mixed methods study of over 1500 youth globally support four propositions that underlie a more culturally and contextually embedded understanding of resilience: 1) there are global, as well as culturally and contextually specific aspects to young people’s lives that contribute to their resilience; 2) aspects of resilience exert differing amounts of influence on a child’s life depending on the specific culture and context in which resilience is realized; 3) aspects of children’s lives that contribute to resilience are related to one another in patterns that reflect a child’s culture and context; 4) tensions between individuals and their cultures and contexts are resolved in ways that reflect highly specific relationships between aspects of resilience. The implications of this cultural and contextual understanding of resilience to interventions with at-risk populations are discussed.