Professor Ruth Mampane, Head of the Department of Educational Psychology, was inaugurated as Head on 21 June 2018. The event was attended by colleagues, family, and friends.
The topic of her address was: ‘Family resilience processes from economically depressed environment’. This study rests on the assumption that various forms of adversity, such as socio-economic and sociocultural factors, predispose families to inevitable risk and less resilience. South Africans are predisposed to socio-economic adversities emanating from parental education, income and employment, family size, poverty, illness, bereavement, child-headed households, and lack of access to resources (Lockhat & van Niekerk, 2000; Ebersöhn & Elloff, 2004; Freeman & Nkomo, 2006; Schatz, 2007; Theron, Theron & Malindi, 2013).
Resilience is a broad concept which encompasses positive patterns of adaptation in the context of adversity (Masten & Obradović, 2006). Masten and Obradović (2006) distinguish three forms or stages of resilience based on levels of adversity, adaptation, and competence of the individual or organisation, namely: resilient (good adaptation and high adversity history), competent (good adaptation and low adversity history), and maladaptive (poor adaptation and high adversity history).
Resilient individuals and institutions possess protective factors which help to mitigate risk and build resilience. The study aimed to engage with the question: To what extent does family functioning contribute to family resilience? Masten and Obradović (2006) mention that resilience is ‘inferential’, indicating the need for deductive reasoning or interpretation when judging resilience.
The overall purpose of the study was to understand and investigate key processes that support, as well as hamper resilience within a South African family environment (low socio‑economic background). A non-probability purposive sampling guided the research.
Participatory Reflection and Action research and Demographic Questionnaires were used as data collection strategies with caregivers. The data collection process covered four sessions over a period of 12 months. Content thematic analysis was used to analyse data. The themes identified indicate that family resilience is based on the following key processes: relationships, communication, problem-solving skills, spirituality, and the socio-economic factor.