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Community Context and Family Resilience

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Building Community and Family Resilience

Part of the book series: Emerging Issues in Family and Individual Resilience ((EIIFR))


Family resilience refers to the ability of families to spring back or recover from a stress or challenge like poverty, unemployment, homelessness, or food insecurity. Humans have lived in communities throughout history because they can address key life sustaining problems like providing food, shelter, and protection better collectively than they can individually. Communities are, in short, human associations for problem solving. This paper argues that many larger social problems manifest themselves in families at the local level and that understanding communities can help promote resilient families.

Communities, however, have been transformed by capitalist industrialization, and their problem-solving capacities have been challenged. Drawing on social capital theory and methodology, this paper focuses on how to conceptualize community so that it can address problem solving and promote resilient families. The key idea is to view communities as networks of associations characterized by norms of trust and reciprocity. These networks are important because vital resources are located in them, and how they are structured affects their ability to locate and mobilize resources to solve community problems. A number of network concepts and models are presented to illustrate how network structure influences problem solving. A case study of Springfield, Missouri, is provided to show how one community structured its networks to enhance problem solving.

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Correspondence to John B. Harms .

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Questions for Thought and Discussion

Questions for Thought and Discussion

  1. 1.

    What is the “Community Question” and how does it shape the way we understand family resilience?

  2. 2.

    What is social capital? What is the “lost community problem”? How does the concept of social capital help to provide a solution to the lost community problem?

  3. 3.

    What is bridging social capital? What is bonding social capital? How do these concepts relate to the network structure of communities and family resilience?

  4. 4.

    What is the difference between a community of necessity and a community of affinity? How does an understanding of community context matter for public problem solving, particularly as it relates to resilience?

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Harms, J.B. (2021). Community Context and Family Resilience. In: Stout, M., Harrist, A.W. (eds) Building Community and Family Resilience. Emerging Issues in Family and Individual Resilience. Springer, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-49798-9

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-49799-6

  • eBook Packages: Law and CriminologyLaw and Criminology (R0)

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