Keywords: Community resilience, perspectives, multiple understandings, rural development, Scotland
Academics and others with knowledge and experience of rural communities currently tend to describe rural community resilience as relating to the ability of that community and its inhabitants to survive a series of generally gradual changes affecting “everyday” life (e.g. the closure of key services and facilities, demographic changes and populations decline) whilst being able to move forward to create a new milieu, a process that involves both human agency and social capital. However, the term resilience may be understood and applied to rural communities in other ways. This paper seeks to explore this problem in rural Scotland. Specifically, from our research, we have found that Scottish resilient policy refers to a community’s ability to respond to or plan for extreme events or “emergencies” (e.g. flooding, fires, terrorism). This contrasts the established rural development definition and can lead to confusion regarding what is resilience, what it means for rural communities to be resilient and how it can be responded to. This paper draws on findings from two projects; “Local assets, local decisions and community resilience” funded by the Scottish Government and “Long-term implications of funding” funded by the Centre of Expertise for Waters. It aims to explore to show how these different and potentially conflicting understandings of resilience exist and manifest themselves in rural communities. Finally, the paper examines whether these different conceptualisations of community resilience are separate, or in fact are inter-twined and contribute to an over-arching and more complex understanding of resilience.