CHAPTER 3: RESILIENCE THEORY AS A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK USED IN THIS STUDY
The purpose of this chapter is to explain the choice of the theoretical framework that was used to guide this study. The section covers an in-depth review of resilience as a theoretical framework and its application in this study.
Since rangers are at the forefront of wildlife conservation, they are constantly exposed to workplace challenges that require them to be resilient. This study was aimed at understanding the workplace challenges and needs of the rangers and using this understanding to develop a model that will assist rangers to adapt and cope with their workplace challenges. As a result, understanding the concepts of resilience and its factors assisted the researcher with the insight that contributed to the development of the resilience-building model. Resilience theory was thus best suited as a proactive wellness intervention to assist the rangers tap into their inner self and deal with the challenges they face on a daily basis in their work environment.
The discussion has been centred on the value of resilience in overcoming adversity and positioning a resilience-building strategy within the conservation fraternity. The resilience literature review assisted in developing the study framework as different models of resilience were explored to provide a comprehensive understanding of resilience in relation to the envisaged model. Thus, the discussion is launched by clarifying resilience as a construct in an effort to facilitate understanding.
Resilience as a construct
According to Rutter (2012:335), the theory of resilience was pioneered by Norman Gamezy and has since developed an array of evidence-based studies from multifaceted professions, all seeking common answers on how to increase opportunities, enhance coping and find elements that enhance resilience.
Pearn, Flint-Taylor and Cooper (2013:32) argue that resilience is about working through difficult challenges, and achieving the outcome of quicker recovery, combined with an increased capacity to cope with pressure and grow stronger. The American Psychological Association (APA) (2011) agrees with the abovementioned statement, but goes on to say that the road to resilience involves developing and learning new behaviours, thoughts and actions to deal with distress. It is about learning gratitude, which is about being grateful for life’s lessons, whether positive or negative. It could be said that resilience is not the absence of difficulties, but choosing positive attitudes while experiencing those challenges, discovering and learning one’s own strength.
The APA (2011) is further of the opinion that people react differently to distress. Therefore, varying factors can contribute to resilience. Nonetheless, caring and supportive relations that offer encouragement and reassurance, the ability to make plans and carry them out, communication and problem-solving skills, a positive view of the self and confidence in one’s own abilities and strengths, and the ability to manage one’s own feelings and impulses are key and important strategies to building resilience. Schlossberg (2011:10) concurs by asserting that an interpersonal support system that refers to a convoy of social support is a determinant of wellbeing as it provides individuals with advice, protection and a sense of self-worth, thereby increasing their coping mechanisms.
According to Kristine (2016), Eliasov (2011) and APA (2011), today’s complex environment needs individuals who are conscious and principled in critical thinking in order to keep things in perspective. Self-discovery, which is about being aware of one’s own growth, having a sense of strength and self-worth, is therefore critical for enduring and emerging from adverse experiences. Moreover, any fundamental change starts with the self and ripples outwards. Thus, it is important to focus one’s energies on what is possible to change; that is, the circle of influence. One can say that today’s world is full of challenges that need one to be realistic and positive, therefore focusing on what one can change, rather than fighting things that are beyond one’s control, as this wastes energy and is emotionally draining.
Moreover, Flint-Taylor et al. (2013:33) argue that, in order to manage difficult and stressful situations, it is important to assess and be aware of one’s resilience. This will assist with crafting a way forward that involves improving one’s coping capability. The researcher seeks to understand how rangers have been coping with their workplace experiences, as well as their thoughts in terms of the new behaviour that needs to be learned. In concurrence, APA (2011) argues that accepting change as part of living is an optimistic outlook as it safeguards one against seeing distress as insurmountable, but rather encourages one to concentrate on possible and achievable actions that will help deal with adverse situations. One can say that a positive interpretation and response to distress is important as it encourages the client to see the glass as being half full rather than half empty; that is to say, substituting negative thoughts with positive thoughts about what can go right rather than what could go wrong. In summing up, Schlossberg (2011:12) speaks of self-attitude (referred to as psychosocial competence), which is about the internal locus of control and sense of responsibility. It could be said that clients should be encouraged to change their attitudes to be positive and hopeful about themselves and their situation, as failure to do so can be self-destructive.
Evidence in support of the abovementioned assertion can be found in Pearn et al. (2013:33), who argue that replacing negative thoughts with positive and realistic ones is known as reframing. It encourages clients to see challenges rather than problems, thereby strengthening their ability to respond in a resilient manner. In addition, reframing encourages positive emotions, such as happiness, enthusiasm and gratitude, which, in turn has benefits for the wellbeing and performance of individuals and teams. In the final analysis, APA (2011) states that maintaining a hopeful outlook is about expecting good things to happen, and nurturing a positive self-view by trusting one’s instincts and attitude. One can then state that campaigns that encourage positivity in the workplace can inevitably foster resilience.
With reference to organisational support, determination, endurance, adaptability and characteristics of individual resilience, and support.
Taormina (2015:37) argues that recuperation are core and critical collaborations are only there for APA (2011) supports the same sentiments by positing that caring and supporting relations strengthen resilience. It could be understood that accepting and giving support has shared value; that is, it is beneficial for both the helper and the receiver. For example, volunteering one’s services at a local old age home may make one feel good about being able to assist others, despite one’s own challenges, while the recipient of the services may be appreciative of the assistance given. By the same token, Schlossberg (2011:10) states that institutional support from religious groups, social welfare and community support groups play a vital supporting role that shows individuals that they are not alone during trying times, thereby giving the individual hope to carry on in a resilient manner.
Self-care is about engaging in activities that one enjoys to benefit the mind and body. Regular exercise is said to improve stamina and fitness levels, and strengthens the immune system, resulting in improved health. This has been proven by the US Army, which successfully used this initiative to help soldiers and their families cope during challenging times (Pearn et al., 2013:34; APA, 2011). It could thus be said that relaxation and any activity that takes one’s mind off the hardship are important for survival, thereby providing individuals with the strength and determination to deal with challenges in a resilient way.
It could be concluded that resilience uses an inward/outward approach, which is about enhancing self-consciousness and receptivity of the world around the self, thereby enhancing coping mechanisms in a chaotic and confusing world. It is against this backdrop that the researcher used resilience theory to ground the envisaged model on social work practice among rangers to address their workplace challenges, thereby improving their quality of life.
The conceptual basis of this study is underpinned by the notion of resilience as a multidimensional construct. Therefore, it is important to define resilience. According to Taormina (2015:36), resilience comes from the Latin word “resilire”, and it means “to recoil”. It is about flexibility, rebound, elasticity and spring back.
The same sentiments are expressed by Jackson et al. (2007:3), who claim that resilience has multifaceted meanings from different professional perspectives, but all encapsulate the ability to absorb, adjust and fit in, determination and willpower to endure, the ability to recuperate and re-establish to an earlier condition and the ability to have caring and supportive collaborations. In addition, Jackson et al. (2007:6) refer to resilience as the ability of an individual to adjust to adversity, maintain equilibrium, retain some sense of control and continue to move on in a positive manner.
On the other hand, Warner ([sa]) defines resilience in an organisation as the ability to cope, to remain task-focused and productive while experiencing tough times at work and home. It incorporates the concept of emerging from adversity stronger and more resourceful than before. Resilience can be applied to rangers through strategies such as maintaining positivity, developing emotional insight, spirituality, building positive and nurturing relationships in order to achieve quality of life, seeing that their work environment is characterised by challenges. The application of these aspects is discussed in detail in the proposed resilience-building model in Chapter 7 of this thesis.
Resilience is the process of coping, adjusting, recovering and the outcome of beating the odds and experiencing post-adversity growth (Sabina & Banyard, 2015:337; Meichenbaum, [sa]). Van Hook (2013:2) concurs with the previous statement and goes on to say that it is also about making a meaningful contribution to the lives of others. It could be said that resilience is not all about surviving the ordeal unscathed, but about withstanding the challenges, not despairing and being able to assist others while experiencing hardships.
Several authors, such as Litz (2014:2), Grant and Kinman (2012:605), Jones (2012:63), Greene (2010:413) and Henderson (2007) suggest that resilience is a myriad of flexible, protective and promotive factors that buffer and strengthen one to navigate through the challenges. It is about continuous engagement in adaptive and coping strategies that assist one to search and find meaning for one’s distress.
Furthermore, they argue that humans are born and hard-wired with the innate self-righting abilities that give them the capacity to positively draw on their internal resources to help them to bounce back and emerge unscathed from challenges. This innate control is referred to as the internal locus of control, a mental acknowledgement of the control one has over one’s own life, which is important for recovery and the healing of traumatic experiences. Mancini and Bonanno (2006:979) argue that personality has a role to play in resilience, and people who are attuned and healthy tend to possess elasticity and coping mechanisms. Therefore, this suggests that people should be allowed a chance to self-ratify and only be offered assistance such as counselling when the situation worsens.
Litz (2014:2), Rutter (2012:341) and Shepherd, Reynolds and Moran (2010:286) agree with the notion of resilience as not only being complex and multidimensional, but also as being an interplay of factors such as post-trauma, coping resource and recovery from adversity. It is a co-existence of positive and negative experiences that are empowering and encourage reflective attitudes, which lead to pride once recovery has been achieved. In addition, resilience has been characterised as the interplay of both internal and external activities. The internal resources refer to a sense of hope, meaning, purpose and value for life, and involve external resources such as praying, relaxation, exercise, play and ways of thinking that lessen distress, while the external resources may include institutional support from which one draws strength to deal with threats to one’s authenticity, integrity and commitment (Rushton et al., 2015:418; Jones, 2012:63). This suggests that hope begets resilience. Therefore, organisations should encourage employee-engaging activities to avoid burn out.
Furthermore, Litz (2014:2) and Shepherd et al. (2010: 273) describe resilience as a recovery process that is besotted with achievements and regrets. Therefore, short- and long-term strategies should be used to gain new perspective, clarity, affirmation and positive self-image, thereby bringing respite from distress. Thus far, resilience has been shown to be a variety of experiences and the co-existence of loss and regains, a combination of risks and coping strategies that work together to shape vulnerability and recovery. It encourages a positive life outlook of the self and others, while at the same time acknowledging doubts and sad memories. The researcher views resilience as the tenacity to handle difficult situations and contentiously seeking to improve.
In the light of resilience being a complex matter, Litz (2014:9) maintains that there is no universal framework or prevention efforts for the resilience construct because time, events, culture and indigenous resources tend to differ in context, as well as the unfolding of the trajectory process. For example, a person may cope well socially and behaviourally during distress, but may struggle and suffer from internal conflict. Nevertheless, Rutter (2012:341) and Shepherd et al. (2010:280) submit that pivotal moments often provide a starting point of recovering from adversity, “a wake-up call” linked to experiencing an external catalyst that varies from the sudden realisation that one deserves more respect and self-worth.
The researcher is of the opinion that resilience is a process of experiencing difficulty, being hopeful that things will change for the better, and being proud of oneself post-adversity. Developing resilience in rangers can assist them to cope with their workplace challenges, recover and grow from such experience, and be proud that they are victors and not victims of their circumstances.
Several studies have been undertaken to understand how individuals deal with stressful events that change their lives. Despite the different contexts in which these studies were done, they all highlight common and fundamental factors that counteract, prevent and protect one against the negative effects of adversity, thereby achieving resilient outcomes. Theories like Reuben Hill’s ABC-X model, Michael White’s narrative therapy, Norman Garmezy’s risk and resilience model, to name but a few, were all developed in a quest to understand how people bounce back after experiencing adversity (Sullivan, 2015:90; Freedman, 2014:14; Litz, 2014:3; Rutter, 2012:335). Resilience can be used to promote an individual’s wellbeing (Meichenbaum, [sa]). Since there are many pathways to resilience, only the predominant factors will be discussed here.
The researcher chose to entrench this study in three models: the resilience wheel of Henderson (2013:26), the Three-factor Model of Norris et al. (2012), which underpins the survival of Antarctic employees during their expeditions, and the Navy and Marine Corps Four-colour Spectrum Model of Litz (2014), which is grounded in a normal and good to pathology continuum. The environments in which these models were implemented are similar to rangers’ workplace circumstances, which is a high-tempo environment. The identified elements are crucial in the facilitation of resilient outcomes. These models assisted the researcher to develop the model presented in Chapter 7 of this thesis. The model that was developed is aimed at assisting rangers to deal with everyday challenges that may have adverse effects on their personal and work lives.
According to Ungar (2012), resilience involves navigating through challenges, negotiating for meaningful and supportive resources in order to sustain wellbeing. This means that unconditional positive support and engaging relationships are pivotal to building resilience. In the same way, Mancini and Bonanno (2006:980) argue that the therapist should assist clients with self-definition in order to have self-worth and retain a sense of continuity. This can be done by encouraging clients to examine their lives by identifying and focusing on the positive rather than the negative, thereby enabling them to be hopeful that things will pan out for better. That is to say, change can be promoted and encouraged through self-redefinition, new roles and relationships, as well as renewing self-assertion. For instance, the supportive relationships of family and friends will enable one to step into a new life after the loss of a loved one.
LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
CHAPTER 1: GENERAL INTRODUCTION AND PROBLEM FORMULATION
1.2 Theoretical framework
1.3 Research questions, goal and objectives of the study
1.4 Ethical considerations
1.5 Clarification of key concepts
1.6 Research report structure
1.7 Problems and limitations of the study
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ON POACHING AS A PHENOMENON
2.2. Overview of rangers’ traits and their working conditions
2.3. Types of poaching and characteristics that delineate poachers
2.4. International conservation legislative context
2.5. Africa’s comprehensive conservation response strategy
2.6. SADC’s integrated conservation strategies
2.7. South Africa’s conservation legislative framework
2.8. South Africa’s integrated strategic management of the rhinoceros
2.9. Challenges associated with the rangers’ work
CHAPTER 3: RESILIENCE THEORY AS A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK USED IN THIS STUDY
3.2. Resilience as a construct
3.3 Resilience approaches
3.4 Factors that contribute to resilience
3.5 Resilience-fostering strategies
CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
4.2 Description of the research site
4.3 Research approach
4.4 Research design
4.5 Research population, sample and sampling
4.6 Data-collection method
4.7 Data analysis
4.8 Data verification
CHAPTER 5: DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
5.2 Participants’ profile
5.3 Data analysis and interpretation
CHAPTER 6: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.2. Goals and objectives of the study
6.3 Conclusions based on the key findings of the study
6.4 Recommendations from the study
CHAPTER 7: A SOCIAL WORK MODEL TO ASSIST RANGERS DEVELOP
7.2 Proposed model
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT