Toward a culturally and contextually sensitive understanding of resilience: privileging the voices of Black, South African young people
Theron, Linda C.
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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.
- Faculty of Humanities