Collective resilience and social support in the face of adversity

Evidence from social psychology

Authored by: Chris Cocking

The Routledge International Handbook of Psychosocial Resilience

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138954878
eBook ISBN: 9781315666716
Adobe ISBN: 9781317355946


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An alien observer of the global media coverage of disasters emanating from planet Earth could be forgiven for thinking that humanity is facing an increasingly precarious existence. Indeed, the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), which maintains an Emergency Events Database 1 (EM-DAT), recorded 6,873 natural disasters worldwide between 1994 and 2013 (an average of nearly 1 per day), claiming 1.35 million lives and affecting over 218 million people in total. However, what is often neglected is that, despite these privations, people and communities often cope much better than they are usually given credit for and can show remarkable resilience instead. This chapter will illustrate the possibility for such resilience in the face of adversity and document how the concept itself has evolved from initially individualist perspectives, to more group-oriented approaches that explore how community cohesion can be maintained in the face of disruption and upheaval. Recent evidence from studies of mass emergencies that support the notion of collective resilience emerging from a sense of shared threat will also be considered and the implications of such findings for emergency planning and response, as well as considerations of recent critiques of resilience.

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