Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.
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A word that just seems to come up everywhere at the moment is 'resilience': not only is it now common in programmes geared towards young people but also workplaces are also focusing on it. Why? It is common to see resilient individuals as rugged individualists who are able to withstand pressure. Longitudinal research however suggests that one of the main pre-requisites of resilience is having support from other people in your life. So if resilience is being eroded the issue may be much less about psychology and much more about the breakdown of support structures.
Up till a few decades ago people had much more security at work. Many had a job for life and there was a strong sense of a contract between the employee and the employer. This has changed substantially in recent years: even though people might manage to cling on to a job their sense of security has been eroded by continual restructuring. What's more, lots of young people are now employed on short time contracts. Freelancing and consultancy is also much more common that when I was young.
IN the past people were more involved in organisations like trade unions and churches and this too gave some sense of practical support. Neighbours could also be relied on to some extent. But the main support in people's lives came from marriage and the family. These institutions too are now much weaker than they were before. Fewer people see their extended family regularly and it is common for people to end up living miles away from their relations. Divorce is also on the rise and fewer people are getting married.
I've been reading a lot of research recently on the impact of marriage on well-being. Interestingly it emerges as the single most important contributory factor to an individual's physical and psychological well-being. This is true for both sexes but particularly true for men. OF course, it is also true that being in a bad marriage is injurious to well-being.
What I find interesting about this research is that cohabitation is not nearly as positive for people as marriage. What this suggests is that it isn't living with someone and sharing finances which is important. There must be something about the positive commitment involved in marriage which makes it particularly beneficial.
So it is not difficult to see why resilience is a growing issue for people in modern life. I doubt the answer is less likely to be found in training courses but in finding ways for people to feel that there is tangible and permanent support in their lives.
Comment Posted: 28/02/2010 02:49
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