Enhancing the analysis of rural community resilience: evidence from community land ownership
Resilience, and specifically the resilience of (rural) communities, is an increasingly-ubiquitous concept, particularly in the contexts of resistance to shocks, climate change, and environmental disasters. The dominant discourse concerning (community) resilience centres around bounce-back from external shocks. In this paper, I argue that it is necessary to query this dominant, singular conceptualisation for two main reasons. Firstly, through reviewing the international literature, it is possible to construct a spectrum of (community) resilience research concepts from ‘reactive bounce-back’ through to ‘proactive human agency’, where the latter increasingly questions the reactive stance of much community resilience analysis. Secondly, the new findings I present from 17 community land trusts (CLTs) in Scotland demonstrate processes of proactive change being implemented by communities-of-place, rather than simply as reactions to external shocks or events. Communities’ aimed-for outcomes are far wider than shock-absorption, and include deliberately building their skills and capacity-base in a context of constant change, rather than in anticipation of singular events. As a result of bringing together empirical findings with a wider review of the resilience literature, I conclude that to persist with only the dominant narrative of a reactive, shock-related definition of (community) resilience unnecessarily constrains our analysis, since it bypasses evident proactive processes and wider adaptability outcomes. I further conclude that we need to continue to problematise resilience as a concept, in order to be more accurate with its usage. This is important in itself, and, I argue, a necessary precursor to enhancing dialogue between resilience and other concepts such as social capital. 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Journal Title/Title of Proceedings
Journal of Rural Studies