Resilience is usually defined as someone's "ability to function after adversity". But many people forget that everyone has different "abilities to function". So what does resilience look like for people with disabilities?
Looking at resilience from an ableist lens can be harmful to everyone, not only people with diverse abilities.
Ableism is discrimination against people with disabilities, including the expression of hate for people with disabilities, denial of accessibility, rejection of disabled applicants for housing and jobs, institutionalised discrimination in the form of benefits systems designed to keep people with disabilities in poverty, etc.
An Interesting Thesis by Emily Hutcheon and Gregor Wolbring from the University of Calgary explores "existing conceptualizations of resilience as they apply to ability-diverse people". Emily and Gregor conclude that conceptualizing resilience from a "constructivist" lens will lead to more ethical research, policy and practice of resilience. Constructivism is the theory that everyone constructs their own understanding of the world, based on their experiences.
Here are three reasons to think of resilience from a constructivist lens:
- Provides space for individual, social, and cultural differences in defining and expressing resilience
- Emphasizes subjective understandings of resilience, and in doing so, it provides the opportunity for ability-diverse populations to express themselves
- Allows for a critical deconstruction of existing ableist, and otherwise normative, assumptions which underlie our understandings of resilience to-date
This post builds on a past post, Redefining Resilience: More Than Bouncing Back, and will hopefully lead to a broader understanding of what resilience looks like for a diverse population.