The social construction and reciprocity of resilience: an empirical investigation of an organizational context

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This research examines the communicative processes of resilience in the organizational context of public education. The research utilizes one-on-one interviews to elicit descriptions of resilience and well-being and collect stories

This research examines the communicative processes of resilience in the organizational context of public education. The research utilizes one-on-one interviews to elicit descriptions of resilience and well-being and collect stories of success and overcoming challenges. The study purpose is two-fold: (1) to understand the ways in which organizational members construct and enact resilience individually and collectively through their talk and stories, and (2) to extend the communication theory of resilience through an empirical investigation of resilience in an organizational context. An iterative, thematic analysis of interview data revealed that resilience, as lived, is a socially constructed, collective process. Findings show resilience in this context is (1) socially constructed through past and present experiences informing the ways organizational members perceive challenges and opportunities for action, (2) contextual in that most challenges are perceived positively as a way to contribute to individual and organizational goals and as part of a “bigger purpose” to students, (3) interactional in that it is constructed and enacted collaboratively through social processes, (4) reciprocal in that working through challenges leads to experience, confidence, and building a repertoire of opportunities for action that become a shared experience between educators and is further reciprocated with students, and (5) is enacted through positive and growth mindsets. This study offers theoretical contributions by extending the communication theory of resilience and illuminating intersections to sensemaking, flow, and implicit person theory. I offer five primary practical applications, discuss limitations, and present future directions highlighting community development and strengths-based approaches.