Advancing Critical Dialogue on Resilience Concepts and Practice

Thursday, January 15, 2015: 1:30 PM-3:15 PM
Balconies L, Fourth Floor (New Orleans Marriott)
Cluster: Social Work Practice
Symposium Organizer:
Jennifer McCleary, PhD, Tulane University
Charles R. Figley, PhD, Tulane University
Resilience concepts have gained widespread use in social work scholarship and practice, yet definitions, measures and uses of resilience remain complex and multifaceted. Resilience has been described as both an outcome (Masten, Best, & Garmezy, 1990) and a process (Luthar, Cicchetti, & Becker, 2000) and has been used to refer to both individuals (Brooks & Goldstein, 2002) and communities (Cutter et al., 2008). Scholars have also critiqued resilience theories and practice models as being difficult to define (Luthar, Cicchetti, & Becker, 2000), too heavily focused on individual psychometric properties (Chandler & Lalonde, 2008) and obscuring structural causes of adversity (Davis, 2014). It is essential that social work scholars and practitioners be at the forefront of critical discourse about resilience theory and practice. Social work scholars can offer valuable insight into problems of definition and conceptual measurement as well as the ways in which resilience is interpreted within a cultural context. The proposed symposium offers four papers that present research utilizing resilience concepts in an effort to critically engage with and enhance definitions of theoretical constructs as well as uses of resilience concepts in practice.

In paper 1 Burnette will report the results of a critical ethnography that incorporated a critical examination of the structural causes of violence and oppression into a model of Indigenous women’s resilience after experiencing violence. In paper 2 Xu will present research that resulted in culturally appropriate models of resilience promotion for migrant and minority elders, as well as an understanding of the community context of elder resilience. In paper 3 McCleary will present the results of a study of alcohol use in the context of conflict-related displacement that examines the importance of cultural and community resilience in recovery from alcohol. In paper 4 Ferreira uses multilevel modeling to enhance the understanding of the interplay between contextual/community and individual resilience factors, and their effects on health in disaster prone communities.

These four papers and moderated discussion offer a timely opportunity for social work scholars to engage in a critical consideration of the role of resilience in both research and practice; the complexity of defining resilience concepts; and an expanded understanding of the role of resilience at both micro and macro levels.

* noted as presenting author
Healthy Aging of Minority and Immigrant Populations: Resilience in Late Life
Qingwen Xu, PhD, Tulane University; Katherine Kwong, MPH, Tulane University; Yan Du, Tulane University
Predictors of Self-Rated Health in Disaster Prone Communities: Measuring Individual Disaster Resilience in Louisiana
Regardt Ferreira, PhD, Tulane University; Anna C. Faul, PhD, University of Louisville; Joseph G. D'Ambrosio, PhD, University of Louisville
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