An exploration of the socio–ecological antecedents of youth resilience : a visual study
The purpose of this study was to identify and understand the social-ecological resources which encouraged resilient Basotho youth in the rural areas of the Thabo Mofutsanyana district of the Free State province towards positive adjustment in the face of poverty and underdevelopment. Positive adjustment, or resilience, is the focus of the International Community-University Research Alliance (ICURA) and International Development Research Centre (IDRC) funded project, called Pathways to Resilience. My study forms part of this broader resilience study. Resilience, or positive adjustment to hardship, can be defined as the capacity of individuals to navigate their way to health-promoting resources that encourage positive adjustment, and the concomitant capacity of the individual’s family, community and culture to provide these health resources and experiences in culturally meaningful ways. Recently, researchers have suggested that the socio-ecological resources that encourage positive adjustment might differ across ecologies. There is little understanding in South Africa of which resources, within specific ecologies, encourage such positive adjustment. My study seeks to address this gap, with specific reference to Basotho youth in the Thabo Mofutsanyana district in the Free State. I used a qualitative phenomenological strategy of inquiry and participatory visual methods to determine the socio-ecological antecedents of the resilience of 130 resilient Basotho youth from rural areas of the Thabo Mofutsanyana district in the Free State province of South Africa. Using Bronfenbrenner‟s Ecological Systems Theory (1979), Sameroff‟s Transactional Model of Development (2009) and Unger’s Social Ecology of Resilience (2011) as framework, I explored the resources underpinning the resilience of my participants. The findings suggest that the resilient Basotho youth in this study were encouraged to adjust well to the risks of poverty and associated threats by making use of social-ecologically accessible resilience-promoting resources. In other words the resilient Basotho youth found resilience-promoting resources in their microsystems (individual, family, school, peers and nature and pets), mesosystems (social interactions), exosystems (community resources like libraries and medical facilities, and role models) and macrosystems (religious beliefs and practices, pastors, and access to information through television, radio, cell phone, and inspirational publications). The conclusion of my study lays emphasis on the interwovenness of socioecological systems in resilience processes: no one system could be sing led out. The entire ecosystem was involved, reciprocally, in providing the participants with resilience-promoting resources. My findings emphasise the importance of mothers, grandmothers, school and educational resources, religious beliefs and practices, and access to information (through the use of television, radio, computer and inspirational literature) for Basotho youth in the Thabo Mofutsanyana district, but do not suggest that these are the sole pathways to their resilience. Continued research in other parts of South Africa, with additional groups of youth, is needed to reach a comprehensive understanding of the socio-ecological antecedents of resilience among South African youth.
- Education