Resilience - Policy buzzword or key concept? - How relevant is resilience as a tool for promoting positive outcomes for ‘at-risk’ young people

Kaye, Neil (2018) Resilience - Policy buzzword or key concept? - How relevant is resilience as a tool for promoting positive outcomes for ‘at-risk’ young people. Other thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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Successive governments have placed increasing emphasis on ‘resilience’ for the positive development of children and young people as they negotiate their academic careers. It is a ubiquitous buzzword that pervades current policy directives and interventions, aimed at all levels of the educational system. Used in this context, resilience is seen as a key skill or attribute that young people need to acquire in order to thrive in today’s world. It is defined as an individual’s ability to ‘bounce back’ from adversity or to overcome adverse circumstances to nevertheless achieve positive outcomes. Overcoming these various risks or adverse circumstances, however, involves more than being taught ‘how to be resilient’ as part of the regular curriculum.

Employing a mixed-methods approach, I draw on quantitative data from a large-scale survey of students, matched administrative data acquired from the Department for Education (DfE) and qualitative focus groups with teachers to highlight the importance of access to support and resources for young people to be able to cope with and surmount the challenges they face.

Drawing on Bourdieu’s theory of social reproduction, I engage with the literature on risk and resilience (Rutter, 1985; Masten et al., 1990; Werner, 2000) to frame the processes involved in promoting support for students who might otherwise be expected to struggle academically in terms of ‘buffering’ them against adverse circumstances to promote resilience. In particular, I show that teachers operate within a key proximal relationship of a young person’s microsystem (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) and are uniquely well-placed to impart support and guidance to students facing a range of adverse circumstances.

My thesis contributes to the weight of existing evidence on the significant link between socio-economic disadvantage and educational attainment. Going beyond this, my thesis also makes a significant new contribution to understanding the mechanisms which underpin the role of positive social support networks in supporting young people at school.
My thesis challenges, therefore, the salience of the concept of ‘resilience’ as a personality trait that can be taught through ‘character education’ initiatives. Indeed, I argue that such initiatives are inevitably destined to be fruitless without government, teachers and curricula taking a much more holistic ‘whole-child’ approach in schools, with complementary social policies that seek to mitigate the structural inequalities that continue to disadvantage students in twenty first century Britain.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
Item ID: 26799
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2019 09:34
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 19:32

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