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Patterns of Resilience during Socioeconomic Crises among Households in Europe

Final Report Summary - RESCUE (Patterns of Resilience during Socioeconomic Crises among Households in Europe)

Executive Summary:
Executive summary

Since 2008, Europe has been confronted with an economic crisis still ongoing today. This crisis imposes a heavy challenge on social cohesion, inclusion and the implicit European social model. RESCuE suggests to use the concept of resilience to understand, why and how some vulnerable households do better than others under the same adversities, in order to enrich and enhance social policy in terms of supporting and enabling households for developing resilience. Under those objectives, during the last three years RESCuE explored everyday practices of resilience in 250 households in Ireland, Portugal, Greece, United Kingdom, Poland, Finland, Spain, Turkey and Germany, innovatively combining data collection methodologies like narrative interviewing, visual ethnography, participant observation and photo elicitation interviews. Additionally, more than 70 interviews with local experts from welfare state institutions, charities, religious or citizens organisations and NGOs were conducted. Differences and similarities of actual resilience patterns of vulnerable households were examined in urban and rural areas within the nine participating countries. Countries were selected to represent an expanded Esping-Andersen typology of welfare states, including a post-socialist and a Mediterranean type. Areas were selected according to different states of being affected by socioeconomic crises, from relatively hard to relatively soft, and households were selected to live around the poverty line, with or without benefit recipiency. The RESCuE Consortium first analysed the different impacts the crisis caused on vulnerable households across Europe and the conditions enhancing or impeding the development of resilience (WP2). The development and influence of socioeconomic (WP4) and cultural (WP5) practices are investigated in their longitudinal and biographical perspective (WP6) as well as in regard to spatial factors and perspectives (WP7). RESCuE analysed the role of local welfare state institutions (WP9), social economy (WP10) and communities (WP8), but also intersecting inequalities like gender, ethnicity and migration.
RESCuE retrieved a broad scope of resilient practices in the rare cases where vulnerable households actually develop resilience. Socioeconomic resilience turns out to be the ability to identify and mobilize different resources, such as socially embedded cultural resources, e.g. education and skills, hidden/ tacit knowledge, social values and manners, identity and , including seemingly pre-modern practices and related values, like crafting, gathering and other subsistence based activities. Furthermore, the number and quality of close social relations (especially family and friends) but also neighbours, community and civil society influence strongly the possibility to get by better in difficult living situations. Private assets and properties, like a self-owned low debt house, a car or a garden are of major importance to alleviate hardship, and the same counts for entitlements to social insurance, basic income support, subsidized housing and social protection and other civil rights – like those of a developed conventional welfare state. But many cases showing higher degrees of resilience surprisingly made less use of direct transfer incomes, but very extensive use of common or public goods, starting from public transport, access to natural resources, secondary use of cultivated land, cheap electricity, water and energy supply, premises run by civil society organisations, church parishes or municipalities, ranging from foodbanks and clothing chambers to meeting rooms, free information and education, from public libraries and free IT access points to open universities. To disseminate its results, RESCuE has organized one stakeholder and one scientific conference and set up a website, ( including an internet-based exhibition of the photographical and interviewing fieldwork. Furthermore, additional dissemination activities, such as presentation on national and international scientific conferences, academic books and journal articles have been started.

Project Context and Objectives:
summary description of the project context and the main objectives.

The background of the RESCuE project can be split up into two different reasons. (1) First, the economic crises Europe has been confronted with since 2008 worsened the living circumstances for poor and low income households in Europe. Nevertheless, the impact of this crisis differs from country to country as well as between social classes, age groups and rural and urban regions. Some of the worst consequences European countries have to deal with are (youth) unemployment, stagnation or rise of poverty and unemployment rates, rising socioeconomic vulnerability in lower or middle classes, as well as a decline of welfare infrastructure aggravating the living circumstances of vulnerable persons and families. Thus, the crisis imposes a heavy challenge on social cohesiveness, inclusion and the idea of the European social model. Activation policies, as introduced in the aftermath of the EU’s Lisbon agreements in the year 2000 could not substantially reduce poverty in many european countries before the crisis, and there are still a lot of open questions how to reach a better level of social inclusion by reducing poverty. (2) Second, there is an unsatisfactory situation in poverty research. Despite the far-reaching knowledge of the causes and reasons that lead into poverty, we know less about the persons that managed to leave poverty and even less about the process/ individual strategies persons apply to reduce their hardship and the practices in use to get by and handle precariousness and we know even less about how people at risk actually avoid poverty.
The issues and topics listed require methodological and conceptual innovation in research, focusing on the influence of available resources and practices applied by persons at the risk of poverty. Social resilience is the leading concept, describing how and why some do better than others under the same adverse conditions.
The overall research question can be summarized as: How can a minority of persons or families do well/better under the same adverse conditions – such as of a general economic crisis - which bring other people to suffer from hardship? The research on resilience focuses on the minority that beat the odds. RESCuE worked on this research question during the last three years, from March 2014 to March 2017. RESCuE includes a consortium of nine partner institutions from eight European countries and Turkey, combining researchers from various academic disciplines, like sociology, political science, anthropology, economy, history, and geography.
Partner country Institution
Germany (Coordinator) Institute for Employment Research of the
Federal Employment Agency
Poland Uniwersytet Slaski
Spain Universidad Complutense
United Kingdom University of Hertfordshire
Greece Panteion University of Political and Social Sciences
Turkey Middle East Technical University
Finland Lapin Yliopisto
Ireland National University of Ireland Maynooth
Portugal Instituto Universitario de Lisboa

During the first year, the main work consisted in bringing together the current state-of-art on research on poverty, hardship, coping and resilience in a national and international context. Following, the empirical work started, taking into account some research gaps detected in the former literature and statistical research. The empirical fieldwork was conducted in rural and urban areas in each country. The research units are households (as the basic socioeconomic entity). It was the aim to investigate resilient practices of persons within these households (instead of personal traits of resilient persons) as RESCuE is about social resilience, which is produced by social practices, rather than on a psychological perspective on resilience. Hence, preconditions, processes and outcomes of resilience are analysed. Further, “crisis” is understood in a very broad sense, including not only the European economic crisis, but also different crises at national or local level, as well as personal/biographical crises (such as health problems, unemployment or even demise) or climatic changes or natural disasters. This broad definition is necessary and is taking into account that austerity policies due to the overall crisis led to certain cuts in institutional support within the countries of the European Union. These limitations led to restricted possibilities of compensation of various and increasing “critical” events.
To capture a broad variety of vulnerable households, different field access strategies needed to be applied. The first access to the fieldwork was mostly arranged through expert interviews with policy makers and representatives from welfare state agencies, NGOs, charities on a local and national level. Every partner conducted about 10 expert interviews in total. Apart from sharing information about the community and the background structure the experts provided the local researchers with contacts to households of interest for us. The household interviews took place in a rural and urban area. Each local case study consisted of 12 contrasting families, with 1 narrative biographical interview of 1+ household member, plus participant observation on the local sites. Eight of those 12 households were given cameras and encouraged to take photographs from their life situation, following an inspirational guideline. After two to three weeks’ time to take pictures, a qualitative photo elicitation interview followed, that allowed the interviewees to explain their living situation as well as their daily routines and practices with their own photos. In total, about 25 household-interviews per country have been collected, which leads to a body of 225 household-interviews in all countries. Including the photo based follow-up interviews, approx. 370 interviews have been conducted. Separately, 72 expert interviews were conducted in total, which leads to almost 450 households and experts who have been interviewed.
Due to our innovative methodological combination of text and picture analysis a deep insight into the framing structures and the daily lives and resilient practices of vulnerable households could be gained.
The second and third year of the project were used to investigate the influence of different institutions, practices, origin, etc. on the shaping of resilience. The following workpackages framed the research:
Research Workpackages Leading Partner
2 State of the art report „Crisis and Resilience“ ISCTE-IUL
3 Methodology and fieldwork UCM
4 Socioeconomic practices in resilient households UH
5 Cultural patterns in resilient households US
6 Longitudinal and biogr. development of hh. Res. NUIM
7 The spatial dimension of households‘ resilience METU
8 Communities, participation and politics UCM
9 Resilient households and welfare state institutions UPSPS
10 Social economy and household resilience US
11 Gender, ethnic and migration aspects UPSPS

Based on that empirical data, seven core elements of resilience could be identified:
Resilience is not a state but a process, so resilience is developing, can be lost or can be gained. Resilience is not necessarily a stable state. Emmy Werner studied resilience under the Kauai children in a very extended longitudinal design of at least 20 years of repeated interviewing every five years.
Resilience moreover is not a dichotomous phenomenon but a gradual one. The same practice may lead to different outcomes in different household and family situations and constellations: There are some people who are doing the same but with less outcome.
Resilience consists of resources and action patterns at levels of individuals and groups under certain and specifiable conditions. Although there are resources within the persons investigated, social sciences put emphasis on those resources given in natural, cultural and social environments, structures and situations, some of which might have been apprised to the individual in family history and biography, while some of them form the conditions and resources in a present day situation.
Resilience can be identified only in comparison to non-resilience, because if everybody is resilient we have no mean of distinguishing resilience to something else. Concepts need a certain power of distinction, otherwise they are not concepts - this is a logical point, not very commonly known but important.
Resilience may include deviant behaviour or create individual or collective risks or costs to a certain extent; this means to take a non-heroic perspective on resilienceResilience, as it should be understood in social sciences, means to successfully use degrees of freedom while acting in a set of given constraints (see Dagdeviren et al. 2016)
If vulnerable households develop resilience to a certain degree, social institutions and none- or low-commodified resources play a crucial role: The property order may exclude or allow vulnerable households to make use of natural resources on common or uncultivated land, the state as provider of public infrastructures may or not provide things like public safety, access to public transport or other infrastructure, and welfare state or charity provisions ease the load of gaining the narrow means of living through (often partial) transfer incomes, food banks or clothing chambers. We did not meet any case of resilience, in which there was not any institutional support by either one other societal unit of action.
Personal non-virtual social networks are crucial for resilience. The network integration of resilient households exceeds that of non-resilient households by far; those networks are moreover surprisingly broad in scope and size, and they are both socially integrative and economically productive – through mutual support, information, and psychosocial stabilisation – although not being commodified.
Culture plays a double role: Resilient families often relate both their practices and views on life in a system of norms and values apart from the consumerist and competitive mainstream of postmodern labour societies. And, practical patterns of resilience are related to patterns of knowledge, be it professional skills, good housekeeping or residual knowledge patterns of subsistence economy.
Given this, resilience might indeed be a new perspective to learn about avoiding poverty also being at risk, to live in poverty and doing better than expected, or even to struggle oneself out of poverty. Studying resilience in a social policy context therefore means to look at those few who beat the odds, in order to give better (institutional) support to those who don’t.

Dissemination activity and Publication
During the third year the consortium started to widespread their scientific, stakeholder- and public related information. Until March 2017 three articles could be published in peer-reviewed Journals as well as two working papers and two book chapters. In total, 50 presentation were hold at scientific and stakeholder related conferences. Further, the RESCuE Homepage ( was built at the beginning of the project in 2014. Since then it was updated constantly and rebuilt in early 2017. The homepage also includes a downloadable slideshow, containing selected photos from the fieldwork, including quotations from the interviews. Besides, a virtual exhibition showing photos from the participants is included in the website. The structure of the virtual exhibition allows to select the photos regarding some criteria, like country, area, practices visible on the photos, family background etc.

Project Results:
Description of the main research results/foregrounds.

RESCuE refers to the economic and social crisis that followed the global financial crisis of 2007-8. The crisis started with the bursting of a financial bubble, whose effects were amplified manifoldly by the financial deregulation since the 1980s and the high level of integration of financial markets across the globe that followed it. The result was a worldwide credit crunch. By 2009 all RESCuE countries apart from Poland were in economic recession.
Despite the magnitude of the crisis, not all RESCuE countries suffered its effects on the same measure, nor on the same time frame. The countries in the outer periphery of the EU – Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece – would bear the harshest and longest of the recessions that followed the crisis, from which they are yet to recover. By contrast, a second group of countries which included traditional industrial powerhouses such as Germany and the UK, as well as Finland and also emerging economies such as Poland and Turkey initially felt the effects of the global crisis but recovered much more quickly – to the point that, in the two latter countries, the crisis is not even seen as anything else than a short-term downturn.
The double impact of unemployment and worsening of employment conditions in household income was both deep and extended in time. This had an inevitable impact in both absolute and relative poverty levels. Material deprivation levels increased in the years after the crisis in no less than six of the eight RESCuE countries, with only Poland and Finland breaking the trend. In turn, at risk of poverty rates before social transfers also increased in the countries which suffered more prolonged recessions, such as Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal and also in the UK.
Regarding the effect of social transfers, one can immediately see how the Welfare state acts as a buffer to economic crisis, as fluctuations in poverty rates are much less pronounced. Yet one can also get a glimpse of how different countries, different approaches to the crisis and different Welfare State regimes can mitigate or potentiate its impact. If Greece and Spain continue to display considerable (if less marked) hikes in poverty rate after social transfers, in Portugal (by 2011) the main trace of the crisis is the halting and then reversion of a trend of decreasing inequality. By contrast, Ireland and the UK (by 2011) were still showing lower levels of at-risk-poverty than before the crisis.
In order to fully grasp the consequences of recent transformations in the labour market, we considered how income distribution has evolved within the countries of the RESCuE sample. As expected, countries such as Finland or Germany appear more egalitarian in regards to income distribution while others such as Spain, Greece and Portugal show much higher inequality levels. This contrast extends to the evolution of these indicators during the crisis years. Spain stands out as a case in which the crisis quickly translated into a rapid increase in inequality, but countries such as Greece and Portugal also saw increases in inequality after 2010 – even as the median income was falling. For other RESCuE countries, the impact of the crisis on this indicator is far less visible. In Germany, Poland and Ireland, the years of increasing inequality actually preceded the crisis, while little variation has been observed in the UK and Finland since the early 2000s
Analysis of these data thus puts forward two further transformations in late capitalist economies. The first is that the relatively high economic growth rates in the mid-2000s were accompanied by a surge in inequality – which suggests that the wealth gains in this period tended to be geared towards the top tiers of income distribution. This seems to be the case in countries such as Ireland, Poland and Germany and further hints at the possibility that economic growth is not only no longer necessarily associated with job creation, as has been known before, but also not accompanied by redistribution of wealth – both crucial features of European welfare state-framed capitalism after World War II.
The second transformation pertained countries that were already plagued by high rates of inequality before the crisis. In these countries, the years after 2008 witnessed either a further deepening of inequality levels – such as in Spain and Greece – or a stopping and then reversion of a declining trend – such as Portugal. Incidentally, both the hike in inequality in Greece and the reversion of the decreasing trend in Portugal coincide with the enforcement of EC-IMF-ECB monitored austerity programmes from 2010 onwards.
Social resilience
The second major question that this report tackled was starting to define a concept of resilience for social policy research. Resilience is a concept with a historical path in science, from Physics to Psychology and only more recently to the social sciences. Importing such a concept and redefining as a tool to study the effects of the crisis implied first to break away with what we dubbed a “heroic” version of resilience. This “heroic” interpretation framed resilience as an attribute of individuals and households which allowed them not only to manage economic adversity by themselves but also to thrive under it. We did this by discussing the numerous pitfalls of this interpretation, including: its conceptual ambiguity; implicit normativism, social and ethno-centrism; possible analytical triviality; and, above all, the a-social character of such a concept. We also called to attention the possible consequences at policy-making level, including legitimizing retrenchment in social policies, fostering the de-socialization of economic and social risks and downplaying the importance of collective action and public intervention for the improvement of general living conditions. Instead, we believe that the concept of resilience can provide an innovative take into the debates in the study of poverty.
Thus, we put forward a critical notion of resilience that posits it not as an individual attribute but as the process by which individuals, institutions and societies absorb and respond to social and economic shocks, in a way that allows them to keep or achieve basic standards of quality of life. The existence of a shock which constrains the objective conditions of existence of individuals or households, or when this shock causes the reconfiguration of social structures, is a distinctive feature to social resilience.
In this view resilience processes comprise two major dimensions: the mobilization and use of social and natural resources; and the transfer of risks to other social actors and/or to the social and natural environment. The natural environment and social networks provide and mediate the access and the forms of use that households have to resources. Different positions in the social structure and different relations to the natural environment add up to unequal access to resources and to different ways of making use of them. Another critical aspect is the process of transferring risks to other actors (both at micro and macro level) and to the environment, occur along the lines of major social structuring processes, such as class, gender, race or space. Yet the relation between resilience processes, on the one side, and social structure and the environment on the other, is a two-way one. Resilience processes are not only shaped by social structure but, like all types of human action, actively contribute to the transformation of the social structure as well as the environment.

The RESCuE project planned a case study methodology as a general strategy for fieldwork. In each country a rural and an urban setting had to be chosen for research. Given the diversity of national, regional and local differences, it was left to the choice of every national team how to do the final election of the specific research settings, as well as the number of units in each context. Every team had the possibility to choose up to 2 rural settings, plus one or two urban areas. The settings finally chosen had to meet some characteristics: areas strongly affected by the crisis or, at least, relatively deprived areas in the region or the country.
In each of the research areas, a similar strategy had to be deployed, which included, and preferably in this order: expert interviews, participant observation, household interviews with participant observation, second (photographic) household interviews.

At this stage several decisions were agreed among the partners: a) the kind of respondents to be eligible as experts (local experts involved in the protection of and/or assistance for people affected by crisis/poverty, like NGO technical staff, managers of charities, neighbourhood associations, local and central government, scientists etc.); b) the maximum possible diversity in the samples of experts and households (household types, poverty duration, income types, economic sectors, educational levels); c) diversity of ways to contact respondents to avoid any systematic bias; d) the common construction of interview guidelines (see next); e) consent forms should be signed by every respondent on behalf of a strict ethical research policy.
It was agreed that data gathering should be oriented by the objectives of WPs requiring analysis (from WP4 to WP11). Thus, a first task was carried out by all team leaders, consisting of a specification of WP-relevant topics. These topics were put together in a few categories that guided the construction of the guidelines, and were: biography and lifeline, practices / results, lifestyle & cultural aspects, community, understandings of crisis and future.
It was agreed that observations should take place in households during and around interviews, as well as in the local community, especially everyday activities/places, but also some special events. Observation will contribute to get in contact with fieldwork settings, to complement interviews discourses and help contacting. It would be better carried out after expert interviews, as they could orient researchers as to where & when to observe.
The consortium also agreed an interview structure and a general interview procedure. The structure included: a) social problems & household coping, local support; b) contribution to social problems and household coping, population served, relationship with State; c) definitions and attitudes to household under stress; d) view of public policy changes; e) community: institutions, activity, changes, impact of crisis, participation, contribution to resilience; f) social economy; g) lifestyles and local traditions; h) future & proposal for improvement. The interview procedure stressed certain elements, like the importance of gaining confidence, of reciprocity (never come with empty hands), that the interviewer should try to avoid the imposition of concepts (like poverty, exclusion, resilience) or categories. The household interviews should have the following structure: a) introduction, gaining confidence; b) put forward general question to allow personal elaboration, c) biographical interview, from past to present; d) present: practices of resilience/results; e) topics: lifestyle & cultural aspects, community, understandings of crisis, future; f) ending: thanking and inviting to take pictures.
2. Fieldwork access and experience.
Most of the observation of public places carried out under RESCuE consisted in freely walking around the local areas and neighbourhoods. The researchers were looking for the everyday life of the fieldwork areas, although in some areas special events were also observed when their role in the community were thought of high relevance, like local festivals in Poland. Observations were also carried out at the homes of the interviewees before and during interviews: material environment, or social interactions between household members.
Regarding contacting, it was encouraged to vary the way of accessing respondents. We used different kind of experts to reach different profiles of respondents: social services staff, local authorities (especially in rural areas), religious leaders, migrant communities key informants, etc. Some kind of snowballing followed the first contacts as a way of complementing the sample, once the experts’ contacts were used up or were leading to too similar profiles. Personal contacts were also used when possible. Finally, in some countries, street-corner approaches, directly approaching possible interviewees were used and yielded also good results.
The access to respondents was not easy in general. The main reason for this was the nature of the research topic, targeting on vulnerable households which are resilient, which is a delicate one, as it is touching a double stigma of being poor and getting by better than other poor. For this reason, we were aware of the need to gain the confidence of potential respondents. This especially meant to gain the confidence of gatekeepers. In some countries, some kind of gratification was given to respondents. In some cases a camera was offered as a gift to be used to take the pictures requested for the second interview (Portugal, Poland, etc.). In other cases (Spain) a voucher was offered to every interviewee rightly completing the program of interviews. In general, these gratifications eased contacting.
As for sampling, all national teams, to a certain extent, developed some kind of theoretical sampling or ex-ante starting criteria design specifying certain profiles adapted to the characteristics of their research areas. In some cases, the teams just established that there should be diversity in terms different variables: age, gender, occupation, ethnicity, type of household, receiving benefits or not, etc. The views of experts on the variety of situations in the area were also taken into account for the configuration of the potential profiles. One specific complication to our research was that resilience practices were difficult to anticipate just relying on the profiling information we could gather before the selection of the case. As a consequence, the teams progressively developed strategies to access certain groups doing better, or worse, than others, always in the aim of achieving diversity in the cases interviewed. Expert interviews were quite productive for every team; they typically produced long and rich narratives that have been most useful for later decisions on fieldwork, as much as are being useful for analysis. The guidelines have not been strictly followed, nor was it intended, but provided a good basis for producing these interesting conversations. The household narrative interviews ran smoothly in general, although they were not as easy-going as the expert ones. Undoubtedly, the interview situation was stressful for the interviewees. In a similar vein, some respondents were reluctant to talk about sensitive issues. The capability, and possibility, of respondents to construct a narrative in which they are able to show their value and discard an internal attribution of responsibility for their bad situation was important for having better interview experience.As regards the photo interviews, the method has yielded convincing results in terms of the number and analytical possibilities of the pictures provided by respondents, as well as in terms of the narratives accompanying them. Furthermore, in many cases new information came out of the second interview to add and even to confront some of the narratives obtained in first instance. However, the photographic method proved to be more difficult for respondents than expected. Most respondents only partly followed the guidelines and simply thought of ideas for some of the items. In general, many people either did not understand what was expected of them or simply found it difficult to turn items into ideas for taking pictures, but the methodology does not necessarily require the participants to follow the guidelines.
3. Preparing analyses
All interviews have been digitally recorded and transcribed to the original language. All interview transcripts are being safely kept by each national team. They will be fully anonymized before any fragment is made public. Photos are also safely kept by national teams and effort will be made to avoid the identification of participants when made public, either in the photographic exhibition or in scientific journals. Field and observation notes have also been typed and archived digitally. Documented informed consents on participation in the RESCuE study are also being kept by national teams. 441 interviews were collected in total, consisting of 79 expert interviews, 216 first line interviews with households, and 146 photo elicitation interviews.

Analysis of primary data gathered from low income households in this research highlighted three distinct dimensions of socio-economic practices of resilience in times of crises and hardship.

1) Efforts to minimise cost of living
The findings in this research contain a wealth of evidence about how people in hardship try to manage their limited resources by focusing on their practices of consumption. These include changes in how they shop (e.g. cycles of shopping, search for bargains) and where they shop (e.g. discount stores, second hand shops, across the borders) as well as greater recycling of used materials. Many families use strict planning of meals and foodstuff. Do-it-yourself and grow-it-yourself emerge as important practices for substituting products purchased in the market, though this is more common in some countries than others. Furthermore, payment of bills is another area that requires careful consideration by households. Rents and utility bills frequently receive priority in the allocation of family budgets. When the budgets are really tight, families delay payments or renegotiate them with the suppliers.
Cutting down what are considered to be expendable elements of consumption, such as treats, spending for celebrations and holidays, surfaces as one of the primary means by which households try to exert some control over their budget. Those who face more severe hardships then start cutting down on vital items, such as the number of meals, meat consumption, not putting on heating or foregoing medical treatment. These measures are clearly measures of deprivation and describing them as resilience would be misleading.
Family in broad sense emerges as one of the most important supporting unit during difficult times, including help with housing, food, small loans and childcare. While duty and solidarity appear as the overriding motives in this, the results also reflect the burden this creates for the family members who are at the giving end. There are other forms of social and informal exchange which the participants used. These include reciprocity, solidarity and gifts giving, for example, from friends, neighbours, community organisations, faith-based or ethnicity-based institutions and political groups.
In a few countries, use of open access natural resources for leisure activities and foraging seems to contribute in modest to significant ways to households’ welfare. Similarly, public services such as libraries, health centres, children centres, advice and advocacy units play important roles in supporting individuals and families’ resilience in times of hardship.
2) Efforts to protect incomes
The results indicate that employment is the most prominent source of income followed by welfare transfers. Informal, causal, short-term, irregular work is common in all countries, reflecting the precarious conditions of employment. Social protection systems (e.g. welfare benefits, unemployment insurance) potentially provide the most effective mechanisms for social resilience. However, cuts in welfare budgets in some countries have extended the precarity associated with labour market to the welfare system. Labour mobility, in the form of domestic and international migration, features prominently in some countries as a way to mitigate the impact of hardship and boost family incomes. Unusually, some of this involves reverse migration as a strategy to counteract the declining employment opportunities and higher cost of living in the urban areas. Involuntary or forced displacements arising from political conflicts added further pressures not only on those who are displaced but also on others who are at the receiving end. In general, further education and training is considered to play an important positive role for employability and earnings but this tendency is dampened in times of crises when job opportunities are limited and labour surplus is growing.

3) Efforts related to use of assets and resources around household
The selection of households in economic hardship meant that many participants had very limited physical or financial assets, other than a family car or house, in varying degrees across countries. Ownership of a house provides a significant relief in terms of household outgoings. Across the countries covered in this study, the ability of participants to save was very limited. Lack of savings is detrimental for resilience as they could be utilised in difficult times to moderate hardship. Instead, there is greater use of debt in some countries, such as the UK and Ireland. The cause of over-indebtedness does not always lie in the pre-crisis period. In some countries, this is a post crisis phenomenon for many where credit cards and overdraft facilities are commonly used for managing daily spending or other essential outgoings (such as replacing a boiler etc.) rather than for accumulation of wealth and assets. Accumulated arrears on rent and utility payments are another form of debt that sometimes may get out of control.
Some of the free or open access public resources enhance quality of life and capacity of individuals in difficult times. These include educational courses, recreational classes, space for community gatherings, libraries, children’s centres, leisure centres, playgrounds, public parks and city farms, healthcare, affordable and accessible sport facilities and evening courses, counselling and training for unemployed citizens, social groceries and communal gardens.
Implications for the Resilience of Households

1. If one uses survival, coping, getting by and transcending hardship as potential outcomes of practices of resilience, a large proportion of resilience practices recorded in this research falls into survival, coping and getting by and very few could be classified as transcendence of hardship.
2. The results provide considerable evidence on the negative consequences of coping with hardship, including material deprivations, often reflected as a difficulty to meet basic needs (such as housing, heating, food, clothing and pay bills) as well as social needs (such as leisure activities, holidays). Feelings of insecurity have emerged as a common experience across the countries. Compelled to focus on immediate needs, many were unable to plan their future, especially with respect to forming their own family. The difficulty of achieving a desired level of independence from family, friends and other social relations emerged as an important consequence of economic hardship.
3. Finally, some of the findings suggest complex relationships between survival and coping and the socio-economic characteristics of households. Working class or low income participants, who had long-term experience of poverty and hardship, fared better than ‘the new poor’ (those who had comfortable lives before prior to the crisis) in terms of coping and getting by. On the other hand, the new poor seem to have access to a set of resources (savings, house, social connections) that enabled a speedier transition to a better economic state.

Social isolation, often going together with poverty, separates respondents not only from social relations but also from knowledge about activities helping to find a way out of a difficult situation and to manage in the times of deprivation. Resilient activities are associated with cultural resources of the respondents, their habits related to management of time and material and economic goods. They are also associated with the knowledge of prosumption activities, DIY techniques, the use of household appliances, creation of self-help organizations, as well as use of solutions developed on legal basis supporting resilient activities. Therefore, another social dimension of the practices describing resilience is the spread on the axis of social isolation - integration. Analysis indicates escalation in relation to the crisis of both of these trends. On the one hand, the respondents withdrawal to the private space and reduce social contacts in their current form, but at the same time, the process of building a network of self-help increases, as well as the search for social contacts supporting the way of dealing with the difficulties, the formation of networks of exchange of gifts, loans and services. The possibility to deal with the crisis, however, is not only related to the individual situation of each household, but also the level of integration of the social environment or the nature and strength of social networks in which respondents are involved: it all has its effect on the economic possibilities and cultural settings of the respondents.
The level of integration of studied environments contributes to quality and type of cultural involvement of our respondents. In integrated societies, for example Spain and Finland, people organize events, celebrations and holidays together. They produce events of religious, artistic or sport character. Such activities allow to build a network of relationships within local community. They have notable effect in building social confidence and support in people affected by crisis situation. This social resource results in resilience practices: neighbourly self-help, exchange of knowledge and information. Of course, these examples of self-organization are not limited to the whole communities. As it was shown in the German research, integration at the micro level, among group of friends, who support each other in hard moments, is also possible.
Individual initiatives of informants connected with cultural production are often including economic functions, combining passion and hobby of the respondents with attempts to earn money, selling their products or using skills (dancing, acting etc.). Cultural events in the neighbourhood (e.g. holidays fairs, festivities etc.) give them a chance to sell products or skills. Cultural production is related to particular resources – creativity and ability to improvise. These are basic skills that our respondents use in their daily life. Without having too much money, any repair of domestic appliances, or at least small house renovation requires putting in their own efforts and manual skills. The respondents are often in a situation, in which they have to do something themselves, without using external help (plumbing, painting etc.). In a broader sense, creativity and improvisation refer to planning and management of expenses, ability to cook almost „without ingredients”. In essence, coping with crisis requires activating different skills which help to survive. The analysis of data showed that these traits may be divided into abilities (traits of individuals, developed or inborn personality traits allowing to cope with crisis situation), skills (predispositions to specific actions based on experience and practice), capabilities (resulting from good management of both capabilities and acquired skills of the individuals).
But it should be emphasized that the most important network of support and exchange is based on family relationships. Family is in the centre of life of our respondents and family allows making use of practices that helps our respondents to survive. Some obligations connected with the functioning of a household are also distributed, exchanged and shared. Family is the most important resource for our respondents, giving them support. It should be emphasized that family plays a fundamental role in thinking about the future and its planning. The RESCuE respondents are careful in determining their plans for the future, which is uncertain for them and it depends on factors that they have no impact on. They live under constant pressure of unstable existence. However, all their efforts concerning children and their education seem to be strongly connected with thinking about the future. Therefore, they take care of future of their children and they see it as a chance for a change.
On the other hand, individuals who do not have family support, in financial or non-financial form (emotional support, recognition, advices etc.), are in a particularly bad situation. This is often a situation of immigrants who left families in their country of origin. Family is still of overwhelming importance for them, however, they may not count on their direct support. New technologies, mobile phones and Internet allow immigrants to keep contact with their families, however, it can't replace direct contact. Therefore, they create networks based on ethnicity or religion, in which they create relationships based on mutually given help.

Work Package 6 examined aspects of citizens’ resilience from a biographical and longitudinal perspective. This approach addresses one of the central goals of the RESCuE project, to change the lens of scholarship on poverty and disadvantage away from a deficit understanding towards one focused on opportunities for resilience. Developing an understanding of household resilience from a biographical and longitudinal perspective required us to take account of the different ‘timescapes’ (biographical, generational and historical) through which people in varying social contexts responded to the risks and challenges presented by the recent crisis. We did so through a qualitative longitudinal analysis framed within a life course perspective.
Historical generations and resilience
Our key findings under this heading centred on the strong contrast between the narratives of those who reached adulthood in the eighties and nineties, compared to older and younger participants. This generation was at the centre of household resilience during the crisis because they were at the family life stage with maximal inter-generational responsibilities – both for their own children and for ageing parents. In many countries they had grown up with feelings of emancipation and aspirations for social mobility that exacerbated their experience of adversity. Our findings add depth to emerging evidence that adults in the ‘middle’ family life stage experience high levels of stress due to their inter-generational responsibilities and also, in some contexts, because of the high levels of debt they took on when trying to establish their households. Through a generational lens, we showed how this stress may be exacerbated amongst those who were aged in their thirties and forties when the crisis struck, because they started out during a period of high expectations and also, in many countries, one dominated by discourses centred on emancipation and individual responsibility. Compared to those in the sixties and seventies generation, they appear less inclined to fall back on older, morally inflected discourses about coping with adversity.
Transitions, events and turning points in linked lives
We explored the different ways in which the timing of lives impacts on peoples’ capacities for resilience by examining transitions (from one socially defined life stage to another) and critical events in participants’ biographies. Our analysis revealed how, when they occur in the context of growing economic opportunity or when they receive strong institutional support, people are often able to negotiate the challenges associated with complex biographical patterns. With respect to unanticipated, adverse events, however, we found people are least well able to cope when these occur at the centre of a ‘storm’ of challenges that overwhelm them. Many RESCuE participants were coping simultaneously with abusive or fragile family relationships, discrimination by employers or welfare officials and, most notably, with ill-health or disability when the crisis impacted on their standard of living. Their narratives reveal how austerity measures have piled challenges on already struggling people in ways that undermine their resilience.
Some participants identified positive turning points in their lives. Such ‘fateful moments’ were associated with a reconfiguration of participants’ identities in ways that promoted a sense of agency and the rediscovery of self. Accounts of the re-shaping of lives were commonly framed through an ethical lens. They involved taking a stance on doing what is ‘right’ – for themselves and their families, for the community or the environment. While such ‘fateful moments’ may play a decisive part in the restoration of an agentic sense of self, they were often also associated with at least a temporary acceptance of reduced economic circumstances. They often depended for their success on critical interventions by others – interventions that sometimes created additional strain in wider family circles. In most of the cases we examined, positive turning points will require either an increase in economic prosperity or a transformation in the institutional environment in order to provide the basis for a sustained positive trajectory.
We developed a conceptual typology of resilient and non-resilient biographies drawing on our key findings as they related to lives and historical times, the timing of lives and peoples’ orientations towards the future. We structured our typology by the extent to which people’s lives followed a standard or ‘orderly’ sequence of life transitions.
A. Orderly and resilient. This type includes older participants, mainly members of the sixties and seventies generation whose lives have been organized according to normative, ‘traditional’ sequences. While they have encountered unanticipated adversity as they approach retirement, they are nevertheless comparatively well-placed to cope, with a resigned orientation to the future. They often attribute their resilience to coping skills inherited from their own childhoods, but it must also be acknowledged that the timing of their lives and the relative protection of pensions in many European states places them in an advantageous position. This type also includes younger adults who started out on stable, orderly paths but who subsequently adapted to negative shocks by changing direction and adopting new, often ethically informed lifestyles. Both groups within this cluster remain at risk of further de-stabilisation of their lives in ways that might diminish their capacity for resilience – for example, if older people find themselves placed under excessive pressure to help younger relatives or if those forging alternative life pathways are confronted by further crises.
B. Complex and resilient. This includes those whose resilience is founded in the survival skills that they have mobilized across a lifetime of adversity. Their biographies are necessarily complex because they consist of a relentless pattern of negotiating and adapting to events that are always unanticipated and outside their control. Such participants have never had the biographical space to develop stable trajectories and they are constantly at risk of losing their capacity for resilience by transitioning into Type D (see below). In the main they have a fatalistic orientation to the future, although some – especially younger participants and some immigrants – are hopeful that they will have the capacity to develop their lives in a more stable direction.
C. Orderly and not resilient. This includes those participants, many in the eighties and nineties generation, who ‘did everything right’ to develop stable biographies but who now find that the rug has been pulled from under their feet. Some within this group began their lives in comparatively complex inter-generational settings, but were able to develop initially stable pathways by acquiring educational credentials or setting up their own businesses. People in this group have a more critical orientation, both to their own past decisions and towards the wider social and political context, and they are particularly anxious about the future. Acquiring resilience may involve transitioning into either the Type A or Type B groups – which in either case would involve acceptance of downward social mobility. However, if they are able to hold on to some of the resources they accumulated during earlier life stages, they may be able to turn their lives around again in the context of economic recovery.
D. Complex and not resilient. This includes those within the RESCuE study whose lives were at the centre of a ‘perfect storm’ of adversity when we interviewed them. These participants’ capacity to cope was severely threatened because they were faced with multiple, simultaneous adverse events, often in contexts where forms of support that might previously have been available – from family or institutions, including the state – had been reduced or withdrawn. Many, though not all, would otherwise be placed within Type B in our typology.
While the typology we have outlined is necessarily schematic, we believe it provides a useful framework for understanding varying forms or resilience at the intersection between biography, social class and socio-historical change, and for developing appropriate policy responses.

The socio-economic, demographic and spatial characteristics of the rural and urban regions show similarities and differences, which form an approximative typology. The first type consists of localities that were once industrial, but have been recently in decline and transformation due to processes of deindustrialization. The period, extent and outcomes of deindustrialization diverge, but in all of these localities, one of the most important reasons for poverty is the decline of the once dominant industrial activities. The German urban, Greek rural, British rural, and Polish urban and rural areas form examples of such areas. The second type of cases have been suffering from experienced economic hardships more recently and was affected more visibly from the recent economic crisis. A common characteristic of these localities is having a larger share of services in the economy. Finland’s both urban and rural cases, Irish rural case and Spanish regions can be considered as part of this category.

We have analysed the data on four scales: the scales of supra-local, local, home and body, and their connections, with a longitudinal perspective. What clearly emerges from an analysis of the cases is that the state is the most important actor that links the local to the national. In the last three decades, nation states have been withdrawing from people’s lives all over the world, leaving their places to corporations, civil society organizations, local initiatives, or local governments. It seems that this ‘negative’ role of the state in localities have increased since the beginning of last economic crisis. Of course, the state is not the only actor that links localities to the national scale. Data from various RESCuE cases has shown that isolation of a locality is not necessarily a function of distance or absence of physical connections, or even absence of good public transport. An important dimension of this isolation or connectedness is the labour market situation. Another factor that weakens the ties of localities with the ‘outside’ is the stigma attached to poor neighbourhoods at the supra local level. The highest level in our analysis of supra-local is the global. In general, it could be argued that the level of connections of the localities we have studied to the global is quite poor, although there are some exceptions. In Finland, the once-strong ties with the global have been severed due to the economic downturn of the last decade. In Greece, too, the crisis seriously weakened the global connections of the rural research area. In Poland, the areas are not connected to the global networks in any meaningful manner. There are, of course, localities such as the German urban case and Greek cases that are connected to the global, and this takes place largely through immigration.
In developing resilience and coping with economic adversity, poor households often rely on extra-household resources. The networks that exist in the community and the neighbours and community members who live in the surrounding built environment constitute an important element of such resources. The local supportive networks in urban areas are often tied to living places rather than workplaces. In rural areas work and living places often overlap, and so do the supportive networks. The impact of the locality and the community, however, is not always friendly or helpful on the household. In many cases, poor households do not have a chance to reach the supportive networks that operate on the local scale. Even worse, the immediate environment could become a threat for individuals and households who are forced to live in isolation from the wider community. In the eye of the residents, community could be supportive, irrelevant or a threat.
In many cases poor people who live under adverse conditions are compelled to withdraw from active social life. Although such withdrawals could result from mental detachment, they are mostly due to the shrinking of the financial resources to be devoted to communal activities. There are other cases where the increasing irrelevance of the community to the households stems not from material and mental conditions of the respondents themselves but from the growing number of similar problems in the same community. Thus, under such circumstances, the community could become irrelevant to the deprived households.
Regarding the scale of home, one of the fundamental issues that have a bearing on the resilience of households is whether the households own the place they live in or have to rent it, together with the respective levels of rents, mortgages and indebtedness. In so far as our nine European cases are concerned, only in Finland home ownership is the dominant form of housing tenure. In certain cases, namely Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and UK, households which rent their dwelling places clearly form the clear majority. In Germany, Greece, Ireland and Poland, homeowners have a bigger share among the RESCuE respondents.
In general, the practice of growing food at home is not too frequent, although there is considerable variation in and across the respective country samples of RESCuE. There are various restrictions for growing food at home: The first is the unavailability of space required to produce food. This is the case, for example, in the Turkish urban case, and Greece. In some rural areas pollution is a major problem. The frequency of this practice is limited also because it requires not only access to land but also skills and information and the scarcity of water and labour could discourage households from producing own food. An additional restrictive factor is the choice some households make about the use of domestic space. These households opt to use extra space they have not to grow food but for leisure and relaxation purposes. In Ireland, Poland and Germany, inhabitants prefer larger dwelling places not for strictly economic reasons, but as a means to provide psychological relief. This brings us to another major point: the immaterial benefits of home. As several examples from different countries make clear, a well-kept and nicely decorated place promotes self-esteem and increases the ability to cope with stress.
When it comes to the scale of body, our analysis has revealed that all the problems associated with the economic crisis and poverty affect the body at some point. Moreover, many practices of resilience aiming at coping with economic woes are organized in and around the body, such as working longer hours, consuming less and not seeking medical assistance even when it is necessary. While these provide effective relief in the short run, they are not reliable in the long term as they take a high physical and mental toll on individual bodies. Thus, unlike the practices that provide cultural and social capital to the owners of the body, practices that convert the body as physical capital to economic capital undermine resilience in the middle and long run, in both physical and psychic sense, which in extreme cases can lead to suicide.
The main argument that the research and analysis carried out as part of Workpackage 7, “Spatial Aspects of Households’ Resilience”, has produced is that resilience could be defined in spatial terms in two senses. First, it refers to the ability of households to have access to higher scales of space and not to be ‘stuck’ in lower ones. For example, solidarity networks that operate at the neighbourhood/village scale seem significant in determining the level of isolation, and hence, resilience of poor households. Thus, while practices that revolve around home vary widely from country to country, most poor households strive to engage in resilience practices that go beyond the physical limits of home. On the other hand, when practices of resilience take place mostly at the body scale, they have a dramatic impact on bodies, creating several physical and mental problems.
Second, resilience refers to the making of a progressive sense of place as opposed to a reactionary one. Our analysis has revealed that some coping practices of European households are based on and simultaneously produce a progressive sense of place (community solidarity, horizontal networks, etc.), and they are more effective and reliable in the long run for the resilience of households. In contrast, practices that rely upon and produce a reactionary sense of place (hierarchical and/or clientelist networks, anti-immigrant organizations, etc.), do not contribute to or even hinder household resilience.

Among the whole amount of cases analysed, it can be remarked that communitarian participation, citizenship’ involvement and political participation are aspects that notably contribute both to the particular resilience of households and the communitarian resilience of the different contexts.
Inside the households, this involvement implies the strengthening of social and communitarian integration, social capital, access to information and different kinds of resources (labour, educational, economic, care assistance, etc.), as well as symbolic capital, thus emerging a sense of belonging to the community that contributes to stabilize people’s identity and develop their psychosocial wellbeing. Moreover, participation can facilitate a process of empowerment which also promotes people’s wellbeing and the realization of human and civil rights. At the same time, participation can help to structure time and tasks, which is especially important for the psychological health of unemployed subjects. Finally, it promotes a sense of responsibility and reciprocity which enhances social integration - being part of but also contributing to the community. Therefore, people’s participation in the community and in the political sphere generate more resilient communities, able to confront, by means of social cohesion and sharing resources, the situations of scarcity and economic deprivation that many families have experienced.
Four main tendencies, in which political participation has been affected by the economic crisis:
1) The constant diminution of established forms of social participation, accompanied by political and civic disaffection. In the vast majority of our cases, the main tendencies are de-politisation, apathy and lack of mobilization, and a further retreat into privacy, which is expressed in high rates of abstention, disaffection to institutions, lack of interest in the political space and absence of participation in political associations and entities. In parallel, the respondents also remark with nostalgia the loss of the sense of community associated with the big socioeconomic and political transformations of the last decades.
2) The emergence of new forms of participation. In various contexts, the crisis has implied, too, the emergence of new forms of political participation and civic engagement, ranging from street protests, demonstrations, campaigns, to civil society engagement, new associations and party organization. Along with this growing street mobilization, we find the consolidation of movements, groups, platforms, associations and new political parties (such as Podemos in Spain), which build spaces and structures that serve as context of protest, denounce, claiming rights, etc. In the Spanish and the Greek urban cases, many of these spaces have grown during these years: self-support groups, anti-racist groups, movements’ pro-minority rights (ethnic, sexual, migrants, etc.), anti-eviction platforms, collaborative initiatives, etc. On the other hand, at the communitarian level, some forms of collaboration between the neighborhood and the communities have also increased, establishing support and collaborative initiatives among people, especially in the rural context and in small sized communities. Nevertheless, in the context of the new forms of participation, we can also find several actors with radical right and neo-Nazi ideology, which develop activities of political mobilization, but also some social initiatives (such as food banks, clothing exchange) exclusively for national, white and heteronormative populations.
3) The crisis of the old forms of participation, both at the level of political parties and trade unions and at the level of voluntary work, which has been very important in the countries with a liberal tradition. As a matter of fact, a proved delegitimization and distrust of traditional parties and trade unions is shared across different generations and different nations. Those institutions are considered as self-serving, so they are often very negatively assessed among the interviewees.
4) The participation in cultural, ethnic and religious groups remains more or less stable, although the effects of the crisis can also affect these kinds of participation. Leisure, music, or sport groups, or others focused on the local folklore and, very frequently, religious movements, are present mostly in all our cases, especially in the rural areas.
Most vulnerable households are specially affected by this reduction of social and communitarian networks, which produces a contradiction between the calling for participation made by the State and the lack of resources and time necessary to enable that participation. In many cases, vulnerable families are only involved as beneficiaries of the assistance provided by others. At the end of the day, in most of the contexts analyzed there are several confrontations between local authorities and social organizations in order to provide support, getting over the many obstacles (economic, material, bureaucratic, etc.) for its development.

The notion of community has grown certainly controversial, problematic and obscuring. If one thinks of communities as close-knit groups, then the usefulness of the concept is quite limited in complex and mass societies of our days. In this sense, the notion of social network is perhaps more accurate to deal with the kind of groupings that are found in our societies. People connect with others with variable geometry, that is, with different degrees of connection and in an open way. However, the concept of network lacks the affective component that community entails and that quite a few of social networks finally develop, in terms of sense of belonging, identity and emotional attachment. It is then these emotionally-laden networks that could be understood as communities, even if they are not the close-knit, geographically close, communities that once were.
We will distinguish two types of social networks, formal and informal. Informal networks are those composed by family and friends, whether they are neighbours or not. Formal networks are those that involve the common participation and/or membership in some kind of association, social movements, civil society, trade unions or political parties of any kind. In this sense, informal networks would be those closer to households or individuals and constitute their primary relationships, while formal networks are normally those where secondary relationships are lived.
Regarding informal networks, it is certainly the case that the closest relationships in most of the cases are those one have with close kin, albeit the inclusion of some friends, neighbours or not, in these primary bonds is quite common. Regarding family ties, it is in Spain, Portugal, and Greece, together with the Turkish urban case, where the resort to the family is the main framework strategy to deal with hardship. The strength of family ties lies not only in its unconditionality, but also in the fact that there is a natural acceptance of asymmetry in the relationship. This unconditionality is not to be found in friendship relationships, at least not in the same unproblematic and naturalized way. In fact, the only functional equivalents are the unconditionality of citizen’s rights, and the unconditionality of religious charities, members of the faith, brother or sister in God. But not all religious organizations share this ecumenical, universal stance toward helping those in need. Finally, family networks are becoming more and more translocal, as families live more and more apart from each other, but stay in contact easily thanks to communication technologies.
Beyond the family, informal social networks are made up of an indeterminate combination of neighbours, acquaintances and friends, even wider relatives in some cases. Regarding the relationships among its members, there are perhaps two important dimensions, that is, proximity and intimacy. The situation of the more isolated households in our sample across all nations clearly shows the different ways in which their isolation has awful consequences on their potential resilience. In a practical sense these households are devoid of many sources of information that can only be acquired through social contacts, like information about potential job opportunities, about associations that can be of help in different aspects, about public allowances for people in need, etc. In a deeper sense, our analyses indicate the contribution that social relationships make to psychosocial wellbeing and how this could be lacking for those more isolated households.
Regarding the characteristics of the network in itself, three important dimensions stand out in our analysis of the households interviewed, which are extension, density and centrality. The more extended a network, the more diverse it can potentially be in terms of composition and of the different resources it can provide to its members, for instance in terms of information. Only denser networks can put to work effectively all their potential benefits. Finally, subjects in a central position in a social network are those that can more easily establish contact with the major part of their components and thus get the correspondent benefit. A final dimension that we consider of interest is related to the sense of belonging that certain social networks can generate among its members.
The analysis of formal networks shows that there are two dimensions structuring that experience: the type of participation in the organization and the type of organization itself, mostly referred to the type of their main aims as such. Passive participation in formal networks has important benefits for their users, although it is not conducive in itself to more extensive social integration. It allows recipients of help to avoid the drama of social exclusion, which is of extreme importance, but is not enough to make them part of other more rewarding networks. The benefits of active participation are wider, but finally depend on the type of network it creates, thus on the type of organization that is involved. In a sense all of these formal networks are potentially community-building, as long as their impact on the territory is enough to make a difference. That is, active participation in formal networks can yield well integrated groups of people committed for some common good.

We have produced a typology of forms of resilience to show how individual and household resilience benefits from different kind of social participation, thus is built by means of the interweaving of different kinds and degrees of involvement in the social world, from informal social networks to involvement in different communities or collectives, including politically oriented ones. From this perspective of political participation and community involvement, resilience is to be seen as a processual and multidimensional concept. There are different dimensions and degrees of resilience which households may develop in relation to their manner and scale of political participation and communitarian involvement. These dimensions, which have a gradual character, are also considered as types of resilience that households may cumulate in very variegated combinations. We distinguish five different types of resilience: individual resilience, socio-familiar resilience, restricted communitarian resilience, inclusive communitarian resilience and political articulating resilience-resistance. Each of these types and the degree in which they are present in households is conditioned by the availability of socio-political and economic resources associated to a specific social position (economic, cultural, social and symbolic capital, time), as much as to the availability of institutional, organisational and communitarian support (the development of welfare state and social services, communitarian programmes, the existence of participation channels, etc.).
From this multidimensional perspective, the space of communitarian and political participation is a continuum that goes from the individual to the political, and the communitarian level. According to this conception, a household may gather these different types of resilience in different degrees, all contributing to their well-being in different ways.
WP9 Resilient households and welfare state instutitions
We found that welfare state institutions constitute an important aspect of the social conditions of resilience. The basis for strategies of resilience is to a large extent provided by public policies and public institutions. When lacking, even though residual, household resilience becomes more difficult.
Countries with developed welfare institutions and robust welfare states – with historical depth and longevity – did not endure steep transitions because of the recent crisis, and despite facing differentiations, problems and inequalities, they continue to develop resilience mechanisms based on the welfare state institutions on broad terms of public goods and services (education, health, social security etc) and on narrow terms of the social protection net for vulnerable social groups. Belonging to this category, although to a different degree, are countries like Finland and Germany as well as Great Britain, countries in which resilience is directly or indirectly founded on public support, although provided by different approaches. These countries, however, which were also at the forefront of the formation of modern welfare states, are following adjustment policies in the context of broader European policies that weaken social policy institutions and reduce the resilience of certain categories of the population. Reforms in welfare state institutions of these countries were made long before the recent financial crisis.
The resilience of the indigenous Sámi population in North-Eastern Finland suffered from limitations and pressures. The German social state continues to support the resilience of employed citizens, but many categories of the population are vulnerable and their resilience becomes more difficult through the aforementioned changes in social policy institutions. The welfare system in the UK has played an important role for the resilience of families in the past. However, the system has been going through gradual changes in the last 4 decades. The inflexible and targeted nature of the UK’s welfare system, combined with deep budget cuts, results in a large proportion of vulnerable people slipping through the net and lacking a sufficient basis for resilience development. Countries of Southern Europe (Greece, Portugal) and Ireland which were under restrictive memorandum or harsh austerity policies (Spain) which additionally have a residual, weak or recently developed welfare state face crushing upheavals on welfare state institutions as a result of the severe and large (mostly in Greece) cuts in public expenditures and transitions in labour legislation. Through these cuts, wages, pensions and social benefits have been reduced while taxation and unemployment have increased. Budgets for public goods – e.g. education and health - have also suffered cuts, thus contributing to a wider deterioration of the standard of living in these countries. These developments are leading to the destabilization of the resilience of households being at the level of poverty but also of declining middle classes. In these countries, resilience mechanisms are developing parallel to the residual public institutions that resemble the historical tradition of each country, but also with new mechanisms of individual and social resilience in the field of civil society.
Residual welfare states are also characteristic of Poland and Turkey, countries with a very different background where resilience mechanisms are largely deriving from their specific historical and cultural background. Austerity policies are also dominant in these countries as well as privatizations that reduce social welfare institutions and toughen up citizens’ resilience by creating serious shortcomings. However, in Poland the existing residual welfare state and NGO structures continue to be the basis for household resilience; market-like structures, families and church structures are the most dominant survival mechanisms observed. In Turkey, given the large size of the informal sector, large social groups cannot benefit in the welfare provisions based on male formal labor, and their resilience has to draw upon mechanisms outside the welfare state and mainly by the “charity state”. But the selectivity of charities is often related to clientelism on the basis of national, religious and political identities. This makes resilience of ‘outsider’ households uncertain and difficult.

Social economy and social entrepreneurship have become important elements of modernizing social policy in the European Union. Traditional models of Welfare State have said to be inefficient in different economic and demographic situations, and the problem of unemployment does not find satisfying solutions within traditional forms. Currently, the popularity of social economy is the part of wider process of turning from the model of welfare state into the so-called welfare society. Social entrepreneurship (particularly in Anglo-Saxon countries) has its origin in the search for socially rooted, long-lasting and effective solutions that make people independent. Nevertheless, the development of this sector of economy is mainly financed from public, particularly from EU funds. The share of public finances in activity of social enterprises is diverse in particular countries, but always at a high level. Many people forget that EU aid is only temporary, and subsidizing social economy from public funds makes sense only if it allows social enterprises to „establish themselves on a firm financial footing”, but it should not replace independent searching for ideas and visions of development.
Analysing the way of defining social economy in partner countries we face ambiguous understandings of this term. There are used also related terms, such as community economy, community capitalism etc., and the concept of social economy itself oscillates between the ideas of socially engaged private businesses, non-market but also non-private business, with or without profit as a main or by-product. Despite ‘traditional’ institutional and NGO activities based on charity and social services being very important, sometimes even essential, this kind of support very often do not lead to a change of low income and poverty situations in general.
Following a ‘social economy’ approach, undertaking activities and projects targeting at a bigger economic independence through regular income based on payed activity could be esteemed a possibly better way out of vulnerable situations. But analysis shows that social economy activities are most effective if they are community based - developed by local organizations, supported by public institutions in cooperation with local business, recognized as acting for public benefit by community members. There is a need to strong rootedness and cooperation between social economy entities and the community in which they operate, based on shared values, aims and understanding of community needs and problems. This requires extensive relationships of social economy entities, both with individuals, institutions and organizations operating in the local environment as well as with local values, norms and traditions. This is especially important when we consider the social criteria of social economy activity: The operation of a social enterprise must be focused on supporting and development of local community and promoting the sense of social responsibility on a local level.

The WP 11 research suggested that the actualization of gender equality on the level of state policy has been taking place in different temporalities among different European countries. The fieldwork manifested different gender regimes, ranging, schematically, from liberal/egalitarian to restrictive/normative, and different ways in which local gender regimes are interconnected with class, ethnicity, race, sexuality, and citizenship status. In our fieldwork, we encountered gender configurations established at household level, within cohabitation patterns, gender divisions of labour in the household, domestic economies, home/work arrangements, and intergenerational relationships. We explored how underlying gender regimes and gender ideologies affect social policies enabling or restricting the development of resilience. And thus, we shed light on the manifold interconnections between changing gender regimes, labor market relations, social policies, and gendered subjects’ resilience.
Life histories across Europe indicate how gender norms and hierarchies are being performed in the context of developing resilience as a response to social hardship. But they also indicate how these entrenched gender inequalities are exacerbated in times of crisis and so how subjects dealing with them (particularly working-class women, single-mothers and those most exposed to the risks of violence, precarity, and poverty) need to counteract them in order to develop and maintain resilience. The findings show that gendered roles of housework and childcare are challenged by changes in the market economy that occasionally make the husband responsible of these tasks while the wife is the main income provider. But also the model of women’s “double shift” of paid work and unpaid domestic, household and care work persists, with women juggling feminized family labour and paid work. Most European policies are geared towards full-time worker careers and are under-regarding or not sufficiently supporting or recognizing unpaid family work. Women are overproportionally involved in caring activities, and they struggle to compensate for an impoverished and downsized system of social services, finding themselves in the need for combining growing tasks in the field of care and social services provision. Under these pressures, the family/household cannot sustainably occupy a central position in the provision of welfare, and, as a result, voluntary and community bodies, such as non-governmental organizations and non-profit cooperatives, are growingly taking on the part of the welfare state and the family. Nevertheless there are differences between the RESCuE countries concerning the degrees and time sequences of familialization, localisation, state withdrawal and compensatory activities of civil society actors.
Our fieldwork has evidenced multiple alternative modes of co-habitation emerging as sites and modes of gendered resilience. In the aftermath of hardship, young adults and senior members are re-included in the household, and such re-composition emerges as a way to enable joined housing and shared living expenses. This pressured choice offers the grounds for developing solidarity but also inequality and interdependence relations between generations. “Home”, in that sense, becomes a site of resilience in the face of unemployment, hardship and precarity, but one often associated with the high cost of psychological and social burden. The empirical data points towards gender inequalities featuring outstandingly in practices of resilience. Reformulation of gender regimes in household settings emerges as a resilient practice. This reformulation involves both reification of existing gender norms and regimes as well as a possibility for negotiating and even interrogating them. Finally, households with the most equitable division of labor stand a better chance of developing sustainable resilience.
Over the last decades, the processes of managing labor markets through regulating border crossings according to entrepreneurial demands have been multiplied and complicated. During the 1990s, a discursive formation emerged, which conveyed the need for restricting immigration and constructed migrants and asylum seekers as a burden seeking to exploit welfare resources or even as inherently associated with criminal activities. All over Europe, far right, nationalistic and racist discourses are gaining ground and various kinds of barriers are being erected against migrants. At the same time, collective resistance to racism is growing: civil society organizations and other collectivities counteract the securitization of migration and the demonization of migrants as dangerous “others”.
In all, the analysis of this work package suggested that it is not ethnicity and migration status per se that poses obstacles in the development of sustainable resilience, but rather discrimination and racism -both the ones inculcated by official institutions and those instilled in the normalized matrices of cultural intelligibility. Migrants and those from minority ethnic backgrounds have a smaller starting capacity for exercising household resilience. This does not imply by any means, however, that they do not engage in resilient practices of strengthening their agency and enhancing their social power of negotiation. To the contrary, it is to suggest that the ability to practice resilience is inherently connected to such structural conditions and normative configurations and that subjects need to deal with –and even challenge- them in order to enable their exercise of resilience.
The cases in this work package fieldwork demonstrated a dialectics of precarity and resilience that plays out in the arena of migration and ethnicity (similar to the ways in which the intersection of gender and resilience was manifested). The transnational analysis of this work package suggested that in order to foster their capacity to develop and maintain resilience, subjects dealing with racialized discrimination and ethnic inequalities find themselves in a situation where they need to get around or challenge and counteract certain structural impediments and normative configurations and not only adjust to them.

The first type of vulnerable households showing resilience is what we suggest to call the self-reliant oíkos. Self-reliance is an unsatisfying translation for what Friedrich Nietzsche called „Eigensinn“, having been used by Kluge and Negt in their analysis of working class history in 19th and 20th century Germany. This again which has some closeness to Edward Palmer Thompson’s conceptual ambivalence, deliberately built into the term of ‘making’ of the English working class, which means ‘being made’ as well as ‘making oneself’ in finding degrees of freedom for adaption, coping, organising and resistance. Empirically, the respective households in the RESCuE study have a multitude of resources and practices at hand, which can substitute each other mutually, all being based on knowledge and skills, a few assets, many common goods, networks and communities, and a culture at distance to highly commodified life. The multitude of practices allows for substitution and keeping up the model where one practice fails. ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ was a characteristic say of those families. But there is not just a multitude and diversity of practices. Most practices are pluri-functional in themselves: Going out in the forest for having a nice weekend activity doesn’t only bring home some delicate mushrooms, replacing purchases, saving money and increasing food quality, but also is a family event strengthening family cohesion and a transfer of knowledge from parents to kids, as the interviewees emphasize, is recreative, relaxing, but also a part of the family’s self-definition of an alternative value system and aesthetic self-expression, in which - and there are many such cases of those families we observed - nature and solidarity or other social ideas replace market success. One could even say, such cases show an entwinement of social, cultural and economic aspects or functions in a way which has been significant for premodern social life, not only in the ancient Greek concept of oíkos, but also in lower social classes until the dawn of the industrial age, even in industrial workers’ biographies until the mid 20th century. Residual patterns of culture, having been made obsolete or redundant by social differentiation and progressing divisions of labour are reemerging in resilient households and families at the fringes of lower income groups in the European crisis since 2008. This type of resilience comprises households in most countries of the RESCuE investigation, strongly visible in Northern and Central Europe, here and there in rural and even urban sites of southern Europe. The ‘self-reliant oíkos’ is for certain but not completely associated with rural or small-town settings and formal or informal property orders, allowing for use of natural resources on public land, no man’s land or unfenced private or self-owned land; it includes cheap housing facilities, often inherited or self-bought at very low prices, low possibilities for formal labour market integration, but sufficient possibilities for network and community based economic activities. Significant risk potentials of the ‘self-reliant oíkos’ household type are overwork and related health problems, family ruptures, or a lack of entitlements to welfare state premises if their multiple but still small livelihood fails. The self-reliant oíkos uses multiple resources, among them many active and economically functioning local and translocal networks. Analysis has identified professionals’ networks, musicians’ networks, neighbourhood and alternative culture networks, local leisure clubs in just one exemplary family case – and this case does not stand alone. Often, the self-reliant oíkos is a kind of a spider or knot within a set of overlapping networks. The education often is at mid-level or above, which means the adult household members are often skilled craftsmen or –women, able and willing to do a lot of work on their houses, flats, gardens, repair their car themselves and sell their labour force through one or another of their several networks. Characteristically for that kind of resilient families is an extremely wide definition of family: Their friends, colleagues and customers may all be addressed as family. Alternative sensemaking and alternative values in the term of „Eigensinn“ or non-commodified orientations are extremely important for them, and such are social relations like gift exchange or sharing, implying cultural patterns at huge distance from the highly commodified ways of life. One stunning characteristic is the multifunctionality of practices which develops into an entwinement of production and reproduction. They produce goods within the family in the household in the premises where they live, involving good craftsmanship and a lot of practical aesthetics. Usually the resilient families of that type don’t claim for basic income support, although they are close to the poverty line. Examples comprise artisans, artists, rural families returning from renting their land out to subsistence, educated pensioners with little pensions.
The second type of resilient households is a small entrepreneur or bricoleur-entrepreneur who makes business on very small profit rates or from other households’ leftovers, taking high risks on very low margins, where other entrepreneurs would quite soon turn their back on the business or never enter at all. He can be called an unusual variety of the Schumpeterian entrepreneur, as he does not do any creative destruction himself. The destruction often has already been done by others – be it social and personal environment in disadvantaged kids, or the waste other people put on the street or leave in their flats when moving out or dying. The bricoleur-entrepreneur stands for creativity with things and persons which have been subject to loss, degradation or deprivation. Alternative values, but also just a lack of interest in accumulation plays a certain role here. Again, skills – from skilled craftsmanship to university education (often unfinished or obsolete), practical experiences in former regular jobs – play a crucial role, but also personal networks for setting up projects or getting customers. As a bricoleur in the sense of Levi-Strauss), the entrepreneur-bricoleur has a fascination in creatively connecting things, people, using what is at hand to form something unusual but useful, or making sense in an unexpected way. Nevertheless, the surprisingly high level of planning and aesthetics applied by this type are suggesting to reject the negative connotations carried by the initial concept of Levi-Strauss. Unlike in the ‘self-reliant oikos’, subsistence economy, gift exchange and sharing play a relative small role in the livelihood composition. The small entrepreneur-bricoleur produces mainly for markets, which are co-structured by networks. He or she, often as a couple or family, does not work for just a favour in turn, but seeks to gain a monetary income from his activities, and does not refrain from setting up formal cooperations with fellows of his trade, customers or funders when necessary. Nevertheless, his business often has some strong ethical background – like making waste stuff useful again, working for fair prices, or working not only for profit but also for the good of underprivileged persons, society in terms of education or social projects. Examples comprise a one-man facility services (snow cleaning, repair, flat clearances) enterprise in combination with a second hand shop, and an educational entrepreneur who offers group activities for disadvantaged kids, some artists, but also a retail trader in small electronics on a flea market. There is some overlap with third sector and social economy activities and networks, but not in a constitutive sense.
The third type, to be called ‘secondary resilience’ is probably familiar to many social workers, policy practitioners and researchers studying vulnerability in developed welfare states. We suggest calling it secondary because the resilience is derived from direct welfare state transfers in the narrow sense. And the resilient families are not just users of these services – which is the case of many families in most of the types presented, and therefore not distinctive: The families of ‘secondary resilience’ can moreover be called professionals of their own welfare case, as they are experts in enforcing their citizens’ rights and entitlements, often against the welfare administration to maximise the outcome of the welfare system for their own. Other resources are not very broad and rich: the nucleus family, and their aspirations and investments that their children might have a better future through education. Network, neighbourhood or wider kin relations play hardly any role, while institutional and civil society support does so a bit. Examples comprise a family whose husband became a victim of violence, enforcing his legal acknowledgement as a disabled person, and some single parent households in deprived urban areas.
A fourth type of resilience can be called the community or solidarity type. This type may show characteristics of all other types in a loose connection, but with the special difference that a strong community affiliation makes the family or the person resilient in their own perspective, having pulled them out of a deep crisis. This community can differ: It can be a church community, a neighbourhood mutual support group, an unemployed persons’ initiative – or any other civil society organisation, whether well established or of grassroots origin. Integration and resilience development processes show remarkable homogeneity, with an initial phase of crisis, helpnessness and hardship, then getting contact to the community and entering beneficiary roles, then moving slightly from getting support to participating, and the scope of activities, mutuality and ‘giving back’ enhancing. Our case examples of that type involve in neighbourhood solidarity groups, grassroots initiatives with church support, unemployed persons initiatives.
A fifth type of resilient households, often single person or mother-daughter households, is called ‘biographical development and healing’. Despite showing elements from other type unsystematically, the type constituent is a dominant pattern in the narratives of interviewed persons - a narrative of healing, coping, turning points and developing oneself out of the state of a severe trauma or shock. Many cases having encountered strong psychic or physical health crises, sexual or domestic violence, traumatisation in the strict and severe sense, loss of home and dramatic family ruptures, seeing themselves in a healing procedure after a turning point, which might have been initiated by strong authentic interventions together with a reflexive change of own habits – often accompanied by a change of place, an episode in a sheltered home, but now slowly improving, increasingly gaining back self-control and self-respect, often through contact with animals and plants and manual work on decorative things and identity objects, but also through peer self-help groups under the supervision of local church or social work organisations, at least for the female cases prevailing in numbers, while the turning point and upward development of the few men often goes together with reducing substance abuse, finding a chance for taking up working for trustable persons, getting some income and – strongly - finding a new partner.

Just a small part of vulnerable households is resilient at all . But those who are resilient show a broad scope of different socioeconomic practices embedded in certain cultural patterns, and being organized within social or, more precisely, family, communities and networks. There is also a strong tendency to what social historians call a mixed economy. Most resilient households around the poverty line are making their living out of mixed sources. This could also be called a multisource livelihood, with a mixture of economic, social and cultural sources and practices, but also mixed functions and meanings of every certain practice. So, interconnectedness, multi-purposedness, diversity and substitutional elasticity characterises the practices resilient families are actually doing to gain their living and to keep their head up.Then resilience of vulnerable households, as we had to learn, is vulnerable itself and it can involve risks. These risks may affect society, risks for community, or risks for the person or household itself. Health problems, in relation to overwork or substandard access of health provisions and health care threatens resilient persons, within families often concerning the adults, who try to minimize the risk for their kids and take a higher burden themselves. Family rupture is another risk that resilient families share with non-resilient families, but, as some of our cases show that resilience may include families to reacquire a role as a unit of production, ruptures are even more menacing. Self-endangerment through risky practices can also take place. While there was no electricity or gas tapping observable in the RESCuE cases, insecure heating and cooking devices or fuels could be observed here and there. Community risks may arise from practices which overstretch the family’s share in public goods (i.e. by water or electricity tapping, overextraction of natural resources, free riding public transport, or by participating in social or gift exchange only on the ‘taking’ side) or generate public safety risks (living in illegal or insecure buildings or gas tapping). Illegal or grey practices (small theft, fraud, squatting, undocumented labour or entrepreneurship) might pose risks to general society, but were either rarely observed among the resilient households of the RESCuE project, or yielded just very little impact. Generally spoken, the instability of income generation and the general situation of living in scarcity seems to be the major risk for resilient as for non-resilient poor households, followed by the connection of overwork, money scarcity, below average access to healthcare, and bad health seem to be the major risk syndrome, in some cases accompanied by substandard housing. This risk profile does not differ too much from other working poor households, although there is a certain potentiality of those risks, which is more actual than potential in non-resilient households: The present situation of resilient households is better than with others, but situations can change quite quickly in a way where the practices done before are no longer helpful. Of course the observed families try to balance or compensate it through substituting one practice with another, but during a severe economic crisis or natural disasters this can reach its limits quite quickly. Moreover, and again similar to other poverty households, risks may distribute asymmetrically in households such as to gender or generations. In some cases, women have a higher risk of overwork due to extensively combining of family obligations with work and income generation. We have to keep in mind that all income generation activities of these households are not very well paid, so they have to make extensive use of their labour force, which may bring them in conflict with their health interests and family relations. It has to be noted that resilience does not lift families very far above non-resilient families, in terms of risks, positive outcomes and quality of life, but it certainly makes a difference, as we could observe, constituted by the levels of resources, level of welfare dependency, activity, motivation, self-esteem and quality of life, compared to non-resilience.
The project was able to identify a handful of stable and established household patterns of resilience leading to a household or family typology, as described above. We also found out that diversity and mixture of practices support resilience formation and maintaining, because there is more potential for elasticity, substitutiveness and efficiency. Among the most supportive factors and characteristics of resilience in the absence of personal wealth and sustainable labour, we can find a highly relevant role of common goods and public infrastructure in supply, education and various other issues, supporting all low income households accessing it, no matter if receiving direct transfers or not, of the developed welfare state in a wider sense, small assets like a family car, self owned home and communication devices, of a broad range of affiliations in non-virtual social and network relations, and of cultural resources like knowledge and skills, not only in professional sense, as well as norms and values aside the standard expectations of a competitive labour and market society.

Potential Impact:
The main impacts of the RESCuE project are related to the development of a sociologically grounded concept of resilience for application in poverty and social policy research, but they also may contribute fresh knowledge giving a helpful impact to improve social policy in Europe, as summarized in the following lines, roughly alongside the workpackage structure of the RESCuE project.
In very general terms, the concept of intra-group comparison, such as comparing vulnerable households concerning the question of coping and resilience, proved helpful, as it shed light on the causes, circumstances and restrictions of getting by better than poverty statistics on low income households would let us expect.
The methodological research design, which articulates several qualitative techniques, which are combined in order to deal with both households’ practices and strategies, as well as to analyze the discourses about resilience, has contributed to add evidence about the relevance of combining different technics of social research which are complementary and allow the methodological triangulation of results. The complementarity of the ethnographic approach in the rural and urban cases of study with interviewing key informants and families affected by the crisis, as well as with taking pictures that condense and illustrate experiences and the second interviews of the households has proved to be very pertinent and efficient in order to tackle this kind of social processes: complex, multidimensional and processual in their developing and manifestation. Thanks to the complementarity of the qualitative practices adapted to the research objectives we could deal with the research in the best possible conditions. Moreover, the use of the ethnographic work and the interviews with key informants have been crucial in order to plan the selection of the household sample, allowing us to structurally diversify the types of subjects interviewed and obtain a greater collaboration from them. We think that this method of selecting samples by the mediation of key informants involved in the field has been very productive and could be applied in further research.
On the other hand, the main innovation and contribution of the RESCuE project on the methodological level is the application of visual methodologies, which have been barely used before in social policy research, and their combination with more established qualitative approaches. Inviting families to take pictures and using these pictures in a second interview proved an excellent and extremely recommendable approach for social policy research. Self made photographs and the subsequent photo elicitation interview facilitated an open and trustful climate of conversation and promoted the involvement of subjects in the research. As a consequence, we could obtain longer interviews, better contrasted, closer to households’ daily experience, more reflexive and vivid. At the same time, we could have access to spaces of intimacy inside the family which wouldn’t have been possible with an interview alone. Hence, we could reflect the regular activities interactively in order to understand the strategies, practices and attitudes of families in their situation and the ways of dealing with the crisis. We were able to see the congruencies and, in some occasions, the nuances, contradictions and divergences in relation to the narratives expressed in the interviews. By contemplating in images the daily routine of families across the nine countries investigated, we could get over linguistic variations and the difficulties associated with the linearity of the verbal speech produced by the interviews. From here on, we have selected a corpus of images that will aid other researchers and people interested in the subject to get to our cases, to see their options, practices and experiences, allowing a closer, slower and comparable access thanks to the visual dimension of the images, which will be stored in a web page.
Therefore, the research design constitutes an important contribution in the reflection of the potentialities of the photo elicitation interview, as well as its limitations and obstacles. The more relevant limit is the overexertion of the families from different visual alphabetization and social groups, so an “expressiveness divide” can be observed in the differential capacities of families to express themselves through images and the necessity of safeguarding the anonymity of the subjects. It has been also possible to think about the consequences of the diverse uses of this visual technique, comparing the different ways in which it has been applied in the different countries. In some cases it has been used in a more structured way, in other with more freedom of choice; in some cases pictures have been taken following a protocol or guide, which in other cases hasn’t been so relevant; in some countries long periods of time passed between the first and the second interview, whilst in other cases this period was quite short, etc.
The findings and analysis in this workpackage can potentially help policy makers, academic and non-academic individuals and institutions in two areas.
First, they provide a refinement of resilience as an approach to understand household survival and recovery in times of crisis and hardship. The analysis of household responses (in relation to incomes, consumption and use of assets/resources) in this research provides an empirical framework which could be utilised in similar studies in different times and geographies. Moreover, in contrast to the mainstream approaches, resilience in this research emerged as a mixed rather than as a uniformly positive experience. In times of hardship, socio-economic practices of resilience can also have negative consequences for the well-being of individuals and families reflected by deprivations of essential consumption goods such as food, indebtedness, precarity in employment, strain on work-life balance and negative health effects.
Second, the policy recommendations provide various stakeholders with possible routes of intervention to support resilience. Most importantly, interventions to limit the negative consequences of resilience is an area that require attention. From a wider policy point, support in labour markets and through social protection systems are likely to be the most effective means of social resilience as these are the two main sources of income for households in times of personal or wider socio-economic crises. Furthermore, the findings show that open access or free public resources substantially enhance quality of life for low income and poor families in times of crises. These include children’s centres, playgrounds, libraries, recreational classes, low cost adult education and training, public parks, open nature, space for community gatherings and low cost access to transport. Investment in these resources is likely to play an instrumental role in the alleviation of poverty and social exclusion.
The findings from this work package have significant implications for policy makers and others who wish to support resilience across citizens’ lives in the face of adversity, especially amongst those whose generational standpoint places them at the centre of household resilience. The findings also have implications for understanding differences in citizens’ capabilities for active participation in the future development of their communities and societies.
Since the mid-1990s, social policy across European states has moved towards a welfare model centred more on social investment than on social protection. The social investment model emphasizes individual responsibility and the ‘new risks’ associated with individual and family life transitions, rather than the ‘old risks’ associated with social inequality . It prioritizes interventions to support the development of human capital during the early years of life and at key stages of the family life-course, in order to promote maximum participation in the labour force. The recent crisis did not alter this policy trend; instead it contributed to its acceleration within those states most severely affected.
The findings from WP6 show that, while peoples’ capacities for resilience vary according to biographical and stratification risks, they experience severe threats to resilience when their exposure to external ‘shocks,’ such as becoming unemployed, coincides with multiple other challenges linked to biographical and social circumstances (including ill-health, fragile family relationships and discrimination). This implies that social investment policies, including those centred on activation, must be combined with re-investment in social protection in order to guard against the emergence of ‘perfect storms’ of adversity that threaten resilience in the face of unexpected shocks, such as those arising from a severe economic crisis. Health care and labour market protections, including employment regulations, are especially important in this regard. Activation policies should be flexible enough to facilitate coping with multiple challenges and to allow space for people to negotiate turning points at times of crisis.
The main impact of WP7 research towards the scientific community would be to underline the spatiality of deprivation and resilience and remind scholars and policy makers that household practices which are aimed at resilience do not take place in a vacuum. Rather, they exist in space and simultaneously contribute to the production of space.
In terms of wider societal impact, we shall first focus on its potential impact upon policy making processes. There are certain crucial points where the results of the research might be important in formulating policies and some that might be relevant to societal actors.
Generally speaking, the austerity programs initiated by national governments have a negative impact on households’ resilience. Faced with financial strain and austerity measures, central or local authorities often reduce the level and quality of services and close down social support centres and facilities in low income neighbourhoods. Such decisions could have grave consequences for poor households as they cannot easily compensate such losses. An increasing recognition of this could hopefully contribute to the governments’ decisions to revise at least some aspects of austerity programs.
At the scale of home, a major problem is lack of access to decent and affordable housing. The absence or unaffordability of decent housing makes resilience at the scales of household and body significantly more difficult. Our research has shown that, in the absence of a consistent housing policy on the part of government or local authorities, market forces often work to the detriment of household resilience. A recognition of this fact by authorities and the wider public might contribute to the creation of a political atmosphere in which the paramount importance of the housing policy would be accepted.
When rapid socio-spatial change is experienced at the neighbourhood level and when the deprived areas of cities receive an influx of immigrant or refugee population, these areas become more vulnerable to conflict, hostility and violence. Such tensions that take place in communities are detrimental to resilience as we have established as one of the key findings of the research that resilience refers to the joint making of a progressive sense of place. Policy makers might be willing to hear that anti-immigration sentiments also hinder the resilience of households.
There are certain networks in different countries which link households to organizations, institutions and programs that operate at higher scales, such as regional, national and global. While such networks in general make a positive contribution to household resilience, some social assistance organizations and schemes that help deprived households indeed depend on access to partisan, exclusionary networks. When the importance of inclusive, transparent and easily accessible networks for resilience is underlined, this would encourage civil society initiatives to focus on creating such networks, and authorities to support them.
1. Advances in state of the art
WP8 international report draws as a main thesis that households that have the greater availability of individual capital (economic, social, cultural, and symbolic) and the greater availability of communitarian resources and support (a structure of opportunities) experience the best conditions for political involvement and for the development of communitarian bonds. Political and social participation requires opportunities which benefit widely from targeted and reflexive institutional or civil society support, providing space to meet and organize, or create nucleuses of participation. Mobilization and political resistance represent an important outcome and source of resilience at once, considering resilience a process of improvement of life conditions.
However, the increase of poverty stemmed from the economic crisis and austerity policies implied a drastic decrease of cultural capital, social, emotional and economic resources that usually enable or enhance a collective sense of community and real possibilities of political participation. People in the worst socio-economic situations experience the hardest constraints to political involvement and to the development of communitarian bonds, likewise women, old people, young people and migrant.
Nevertheless, we also confirm processes of some re-politization and revitalization of communitarian sense and bonds in the form of diverse civic-communitarian initiatives that range from innovative networks of mutual help to the struggle for the regeneration of democratic institutions (particularly in Spain and Greece).
2. Transfer of knowledge to communities.
These results are on the process of being given back to the communities where the fieldwork was carried out. Up to now, all national teams have had meetings and in their case study localities with experts and stakeholders to transmit the main messages from these and other WPs. Some of them were invited to a stakeholder meeting in Brussels held in October 2016. In the case of the WP8, the message transmitted is quite straightforward: how community involvement and social participation can have an important impact on the citizens’ wellbeing. From now on, we are aiming to disseminate as widely as possible the web photo exhibition in order to receive a feedback from the localities involved.
3. Policy implications.
The main message in this sense is that communitarian and social participation and the welfare state are not functional substitutes in any sense. That is, the benefits of the welfare system cannot be replaced by social and community participation – and the other way round. In fact, in most cases the first are a precondition of the second, a support needed to feel included into the community and free to participate (thus avoiding shame and isolation). In this sense, social participation and welfare benefits have a joint multiplying effect that none of them have on their own.
Austerity measures, mostly in the European South, have led to shrinkages of the welfare state that render vulnerable groups even more precarious than in the past. In this turbulent socioeconomic environment, resilience has become closely interlinked with solidarity activism and is often produced through the informal practices of groups that are not supported by the mainstream state and welfare structures. In order to promote household resilience, welfare states should work in harmony and support informal bottom-up initiatives, such as solidarity groups that provide avenues for resilience in crisis-ridden societies.
Rural regions in some countries, especially in the European South, are isolated from the national state centers where decisions about welfare states are taken. The centralization of bureaucratic systems creates obstacles and prevents the access of rural communities to the central welfare state programs and benefits. Language issues are also important as applicants with low educational skills or from ethnic groups that live in isolated regions have difficulties in understand in complex bureaucratic application procedures. Household resilience will be strengthened if more proactive information campaigns and communication strategies in rural areas are implemented in order to ensure that citizens in isolated rural regions take full advantage of welfare state provisions
The rigidity of the welfare state system imposes strict and bureaucratic eligibility criteria that push towards the discrimination of the most vulnerable social groups. In addition, rigid bureaucratic procedures create forms of miscommunication between state institutions and welfare beneficiairies or claimants that result into the discrimination and lack of access to welfare rights and benefits. Simplification of bureaucratic procedures and forms of control attached to welfare structures and benefits is required in order to ensure the resilience of vulnerable households.
Active programs for the creation of employment by welfare states across Europe have a beneficial impact on unemployed and poor people across Europe because they enable them to re-enter the labour market. However, most of European active programs of employment have a tendency in favour of precarious employment. Examples such as “voucher programs” do not have a long-lasting impact on beneficiaries’ lives. In order to ensure resilience through active labour market policies, beneficiaries of programs for temporary public employment should have full labour rights.

A central goal is the strengthening of the welfare state in the EU in order to enhance the resilience of households. An alternative scenario of reinvigoration of the welfare state as an engine of development as well as a means of enhancing the resilience of households can be projected against the possible scenario of permanent austerity and shrinking wellbeing in the European Region which would signal the end of the European Social Model. The reinvigoration of the European Social Model could offer recourse to the crisis by creating job positions and boosting the economy (besides, the provision of social services constitutes an added value that is also measured to the GDP).
Resilience can be practiced by subjects who are aware of their civil rights. Lack of information or poor information may result in non-resilience and may also indicate a democratic deficit. Therefore, community-based informative campaigns would be helpful in order for citizens to enhance resilience.Disseminations activities are not yet planning but in the future WP9 could be communicate in national and European conferences relatives on the issues of social state. Potential impact of analysing gender aspects
In the context of hardship and economic crisis, many households bring forth new and alternative ways of coexistence and cohabitation, redefining household, intimate relations, socioeconomic survival and political community. Alternative and unconventional forms of familial and kinship structures, such as co-habitation patterns, extended families, and single-parent families, should be officially recognized and equally supported by welfare institutions and bureaucratic services. However, gender hierarchies that such reformulations might bring forth or reproduce should not be institutionally normalized and promoted. Household resilience should not be developed at the expense of women’s independence and well-being. What our research clearly indicates is that the capacity to develop resilience is gender-related and gender-biased. Therefore, sustainable household resilience requires equitable division of labor in the household. Young generations should be able to create their own households, independently from the parental home. The care for older generations should be a responsibility of social care institutions rather than women’s burden.

What our research clearly indicated is that the ability to foster the capacity to develop and maintain household resilience is inherently connected to normative configurations related to migration status and ethnic inequalities. Migrants and minority people often face low service access, which jeopardizes their capacity to develop resilience. This is partly because they face language barriers during their interactions with bureaucratic services, and thus their self-efficacy and resilience are substantially compromised. Fostering culturally diverse context, however, is not just a question of language. It is also a question of political rights, residence permits and asylum. Illegality and deportability exasperate exclusion from welfare and undermines the ability to become resilient. Exclusion from the right to citizenship for children of migrant families implies a higher vulnerability to racist violence and marginalisation and thus a limited capacity to develop sustainable resilience. Various solidarity networks show that for immigrants in European states, strategies of resilience consist of the creation of informal networks of support that permit them to navigate along the precarious environment of illegality, deportability and recognition. Recognition of equal citizenship rights should be provided. Long-term resident permits for second generation children of migrant households should be granted, without strict requirements and preconditions, such as attachment to parents’ employment across the EU.

The publication of the RESCuE results is – like the project itself - taking place in a time where the limits, not to say failure of activation policies in reaching the Lisbon goals of a substantial reduction of poverty until 2020 have become obvious. What can be learned from the project? It is necessary to enhance the current social policy debates, which seem to be too entrapped and polarised between an expansive welfare state in the 1970s social democratic tradition, a still hardly reflected but yet old demand for an unconditioned minimum income, and new and old varieties of austerity driven liberal-conservative approaches of a decentralisation, communalisation and individualisation of poverty risks. The findings of RESCuE speak a language apart from these factioned debates.
It is evident that there are a few vulnerable households doing better than expected, playing their cards well, getting by better than others, using above average assets sometimes, but mostly make successful use of common goods, cultural resources, and real-life social networks. Our finding that resilience is a rare case supports the subsequent interpretation that we cannot assume resilience to be something everybody or every household can develop on their own, if they were just willing to. On the contrary: The difficulty to find and reach any resilient household for the RESCuE study, the rareness of resilient cases, and the fact that most households in poverty are strongly willing to change their situation (Hirseland et al. 2010) supports the conclusion that living at low income and risk of poverty are in principle non-resilient situations, and just a few might escape by own means. But how can we contribute to more resilience among low income households? What can social policy do? This is complicated, but it starts with the simple formula “improve the cards and teach or learn how to play”.
Keep up and develop the welfare state
The first issue before improving the cards and rules of play is to keep up the welfare state in the narrow sense of transfer incomes and job uptake support. It has to be stated that the scope and power of those premises are fairly different in the countries taking part in the RESCuE study, ranging from huge coverage and reliability with some problems at the fringes, via selective, austere and restricted, to almost broke, disrupted or inexistent. There is considerable need for narrowing the social policy gap between European nations towards a level which ensures a cultural minimum of existence for any person in need, according to the European Charter of Human Rights (see sources section), not only driven by humanity, but also by the self-interest of European nations to prevent social disintegration, eruptions and poverty migration.
Take care of the commons
The conclusions of RESCuE moreover suggest to develop the welfare state into a wider perspective. First, for several reasons, there is need to take care of the common goods to be a well reflected and safeguarded part of social policy. Although direct transfer incomes and labour integration programmes are the base line, there is a need to look at the commons to improve the cards and the life of vulnerable households. Not only for welfare clients already known to the authorities, not only the directly welfare state related common goods, but also for low income households out of reach for welfare authorities, and for other common goods which do not show up in present day social policy programmes, neither at EU nor at national levels: It is the accessibility of urban and rural spaces, it is affordable housing costs, fuelling costs, water and electricity, public transport, free information and education, counselling, health services. These are in principle free to everyone, but most relevant to people with insufficient employment and lack of personal assets. And we must not forget that on one poor household in benefit recipiency, there is another one in unregistered poverty or above but close to the poverty line. And those often cannot be reached by welfare and transfer schemes, but by affordable common goods.
Support practical knowledge and culture
Second, we should also think about tolerating if not supporting non- or low commodified cultures, values, knowledge and practice outside the standard expectations of competitive careers in a labour society. Beyond asking for labour market relevant qualifications and activities, we should ask for and support facilities, conditions, competencies and activities of leading a good life and participating in citizenship. This may comprise education, facilities and support in good housekeeping, healthy behaviour, everyday psychology, childcare, do-it-yourself, but also self-help groups with institutional support, professional support and case management where needed, up to certifiable and labour market relevant education and training, including premises, facilities, support and teaching staff for this, all under the purpose of helping people to get by well, to help themselves, and at the end of this enhanced concept of activation, understood as empowerment or enabling approach, to become independent from transfer income through paid labour or self-owned business. Sometimes our resilient families are very active and competent in finding sources of income outside what we would call a standard labour contract, from foraging and gardening to neighbourhood help and voluntary labour, and informal work. Of course - and this is an old demand of social workers and the people who educate them – it is on the agenda to leave the deficit approach in social policy and search for clients’ abilities below certificate level.
Support network and community building
This means also to create low threshold access facilities not only for marginalized groups or people who are already in transfer income schemes, but also for those people at risk who are not yet or not at all claiming benefits. Some of them belong to declined middle classes, some of them have other biographical experiences. So there’s a huge number of people out there who are living at the fringe of poverty but do not claim benefits for different reasons. The resilient families observed in the RESCuE project include many, many of those who make their living within a patchwork and pattern of small economic activities, if they are in need they need somebody and some institutes to turn to. They might come in need when stronger economic crisis arise or when their personal fate turns. We therefore need more low threshold activities and access to services for people at risk. And we should support network and community building in our activation policies and provide crystallisation points for self-organisation.
Self-organisation is hard to do if you don’t know where to meet, don’t know whom to approach. But if you meet a nucleus, like a priest in a poor neighbourhood who is very experienced in bringing people together, or a jobcentre worker who says ‘why not implement a self-help group for people on low income, people without jobs, or younger people with low income to learn how to manage a household’? These are all the crystallisation points for self-organisation and mutual help, and the supported self help group approach has not been tested too much in European social policy up to now. And it is surprising, where self-organisation is able to pop up from the grassroots especially in some Mediterranean countries – which is something to learn from elsewhere in Europe.
So, there is need for taking care of useful common goods beyond transfer incomes and labour market oriented measurements, for supporting knowledge and non-commodified cultures and values, and to support building and maintenance of helpful networks and community support. Many of this is not new but familiar to local activists and experts, but few of it went into permanent and stable social policy programmes so far, and the recent focus on labour market related activation has pushed it aside even more. It has to be stated that those implications are concerning far more institutions than just welfare offices, job placement offices and a few charities. This may also involve city and neighbourhood planning, housing policy, access to natural resources, the balance between privatisation and public services and goods, IT policies, education, health policies. Fostering resilience requires a holistic approach on social policy, when we are severely and honestly targeting at a substantial reduction of poverty, and an increasing independency from transfer incomes.

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Contact Details: Coordinator Contact:
PD Dr. Markus Promberger
Institute for Employment Research of the
Federal Employment Agency
Head of Research Unit "Joblessness and Social Inclusion"
Coordinator of EU FP 7 Project RESCuE
Associate Reader for Sociology, University of Erlangen
WZB Research Fellow
Tel. ++49/(0)911/179-3139
Regensburger Str. 104
D-90478 Nürnberg