Is resilience socially constructed? Empirical evidence from Fiji, Ghana, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam

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Béné, Christophe ; Al-Hassan, Ramatu M. ; Amarasinghe, Oscar ; Fong, Patrick ; Ocran, Joseph ; Onumah, Edward ; Ratuniata, Rusiata ; Tuyen, Truong Van ; McGregor, J. Allister ; Mills, David J. (2016)
  • Publisher: Elsevier BV
  • Journal: Global Environmental Change, volume 38, pages 153-170 (issn: 0959-3780)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2016.03.005
  • Subject: Ecology | Global and Planetary Change | Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law | Geography, Planning and Development

The objective of this paper is to better understand the various individual and household factors that influence resilience, that is, people⬢s ability to respond adequately to shocks and stressors. One of our hypotheses is that resilience does not simply reflect the expected effects of quantifiable factors such as level of assets, or even less quantifiable social processes such as people⬢s experience, but is also determined by more subjective dimensions related to people⬢s perceptions of their ability to cope, adapt or transform in the face of adverse events. Data collected over two years in Fiji, Ghana, Sri Lanka and Vietnam confirms the importance of wealth in the recovery process of households affected by shocks and stressors. However our results challenge the idea that within communities, assets are a systematic differentiator in people⬢s response to adverse events. The findings regarding social capital are mixed and call for more research: social capital had a strong positive influence on resilience at the community level, yet our analysis failed to demonstrate any tangible positive correlation at the household level. Finally, the data confirm that, like vulnerability, resilience is at least in part socially constructed, endogenous to individual and groups, and hence contingent on knowledge, attitudes to risk, culture and subjectivity.
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