Resilience: A Disability Studies and Community Psychology Approach



This paper contests traditional psychological understandings of resilience through reference to a research project exploring resilience in the lives of disabled people. The paper briefly historically locates individualistic accounts of resilience (which have often been unhelpful in the lives of disabled people) and then moves into more recent social constructionist theories of this phenomenon. This latter perspective necessarily locates resilience in a network of resources including material resources, relationships, identity, bodies and minds, power and control, community participation, community cohesion and social justice. We argue that the recognition of resilience as a relational product is important and in tune with attempts to make psychology less an individualistic encounter and more a community intervention. However, disabled people, their politics and the development of critical disability studies, contest and challenge normative ideas of what it means to live with a resilient network of resources. In this sense disability offers new and exciting ways of addressing resilience.