Adolescent Resilience in the Face of Relentless Adversity: The Role of Strong, Black Women

  • Linda C. TheronEmail author
  • Michael Ungar
Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)


Apparently intractable adversity (such as structural disadvantage) undermines quality of life for many South Africans, more particularly Black South Africans. Even so, many Black young people are resilient in the face of such risk. Women are prominent in these young people’s resilience accounts. To date, however, no study has considered whether/how the Strong Black Woman archetype is implicit in this prominence. The purpose of this chapter is to address the aforementioned gap. To do so, we draw on the Resilient Youth in Stressed Environments Study and report the cases of Thandiwe (a young woman) and Thulani (a young man). A deductive analysis of these critical cases suggests that the resilience of Black South African adolescents is intertwined with being cared for by strong Black women and reciprocating this care. In conclusion, we distil three lessons for stakeholders who are interested in promoting youth resilience.


Adolescents Case study Resilient Youth in Stressed Environments (RYSE) Resilience South Africa Strong black woman archetype 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Dalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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