ABSTRACT

This chapter examines poverty and resilience from a community perspective rather than that of the individual. It opens by examining the factors that create and maintain the negative cycle of inter-generational poverty that has been shown to blight many poor communities. The text moves on to show how of poverty acts to constrain the normal development of positive personality traits like optimism and openness, and highlights evidence, which shows that poverty-related factors are connected to abnormal development in the centres of the brain that control executive functions that support learning. The text then shows that poverty is often linked to the collapse of community trust and social cohesion and explains that material capital is often required to reverse deprivation in neighbourhoods that lack the essential infrastructure to support high-quality health and education. The content then sets out the factors that build community capacity and the processes that are required to engage impoverished communities in meaningful dialogue. Moving forward, it describes how social engineering projects imposed upon communities have been criticised for creating powerlessness rather resilience and it highlights the role of corruption and stigmatisation in compounding social inequality. The chapter goes on to describe the basic principles of motivation and behaviour-change and makes the case that coercion and punishment should only ever be used alongside methods and strategies that offer people viable and acceptable ways of enhancing personal control and self-efficacy. It provides evidence that coercion coupled with the methods that enhance personal control are more effective than methods that rely on coercion alone, and it documents the harmful, unintended consequences associated with welfare sanctions, punitive penal systems and school exclusion. The content also looks at how the cycle of inter-generational poverty may be broken. In doing so it emphasises the strong, adverse association between child maltreatment, adult poverty and criminality, and it highlights evidence-based programmes that have been developed to break the cycle by enhancing parental capacity and reducing child abuse. The chapter concludes by exploring the importance of social support for the development and maintenance of resilience. It describes how social support takes two primary forms and it explains how support can act as an important stress-buffer. In doing so, the text highlights the importance of family and friend, whilst also drawing attention to research which shows that the support, intimacy and kinship can also be found in the workplace with some important caveats. It ends by looking at how ‘gallows humour’ can provide an important release from emotional tension in high-stress environments that are associated with vicarious trauma.