Submitted by: Admin on 2013-02-11
Working Group on Understanding Rural Community Resilience
Conference of the European Society for Rural Sociology
Florence, Italy, 29th July – 1st August 2013
Defined as the ability of local communities to adapt to, and recover from, disruptive events, community resilience has gained currency in academic and policy parlance in recent years. In the wake of both natural and anthropogenic disasters around the world, there is growing recognition that local resources and relationships are essential for aiding communities in absorbing the impacts of, and coping with,  exogenous shocks. Yet community resilience extends beyond issues of disaster management and is recognised as a key ingredient in assisting local places deal with more subtle forms of social disruption. In rural areas, such disruptions may arise from the demise of an industrial base, or the closure of a key employment hub, but they also take the form of protracted decline generated by service closure and out-migration. In determining how and whether local areas cope with such shocks, community resilience places particular emphasis on the collective nature of the response and the ability of local people to draw on communal resources such as social capital and community networks to work together for the common good. In drawing on popular myths about the nature of rural life, community resilience is often viewed as an inherent property of rural places, albeit one that has been undermined by their growing vulnerability in the face of decades of change and restructuring. Yet it is important to move beyond populist ideas about rural community and rural resilience, and to engage in critical theoretically- and empirically-informed debates about what constitutes community resilience; what assumptions underpin it; and whether it provides an adequate framework for understanding how rural places might respond to the risks that threaten them.  
In this working group, we invite papers that address these, and other issues, relating to rural community resilience. These can be theoretical in nature and subject the concept to academic critique by asking whether ‘community resilience’ is simply another component of an advanced liberal governmentality that seeks to govern ‘through community’? Papers can also be empirically-based and examine community resilience through case study and comparative research, or they can focus on the ways in which rural community resilience is now a feature of contemporary rural development policy. We also seek a mix of papers examining the concept in both Western and post-socialist contexts, as well as from outside the European Union.
Papers will be selected on the basis of an abstract submitted to the conference secretariat and assessed according to their coherence to the workshop theme. Accepted authors should prepare an oral presentation of approximately 15-20 minutes with time provided for questions and discussion.
To be considered for the conference, please submit an abstract of no more than 400 words by the 1st March 2013 via the conference website at
Working Group Conveners
Lynda Cheshire, The University of Queensland, Australia, 
Michael Woods, Aberystwyth University, United Kingdom,       
Márton Lendvay, Aberystwyth University, United Kingdom,
Professor Michael Woods
Director/ Cyfarwyddwr
Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences/ Sefydliad Daearyddiaeth a Gwyddorau Daear
Editor, Journal of Rural Studies
Co-Director / Cyn-Cyfarwyddwr, Wales Rural Observatory/ Arsyllfa Wledig Cymru
Aberystwyth University/ Prifysgol Aberystwyth
Aberystwyth, SY23 3DB
Phone / Ffon: 01970 622589
Fax / Ffacs: 01970 622659
E-mail / E-bost:


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