Chapter

The resilience of development workers

Paul Hoggett, Marjorie Mayo and Miller Chris

in The dilemmas of development work

Published by Policy Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9781861349729
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303732 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781861349729.003.0004
The resilience of development workers

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This chapter draws on material from life histories of development workers. It asks what personal resources are required to be able to cope with the ethical and emotional demands of the job. It explores concepts of resilience that highlight the internal (psychological) and external (social) resources that enable people to cope with stressful life events. It suggests that ‘being a survivor’ can itself become a crucial psychological resource. It argues that both professional and managerial support for development workers is often lacking, and this can compound the stresses of the job. It also explores some of the strategies that development workers deploy to cope with the demands of the job. It also problematises prevailing positivistic models of evidence, effectiveness and success, arguing for a ‘complex systems psychodynamic’ approach that recognizes the centrality of ‘emotion work’ and ‘relation work’ to the development task.

Keywords: development workers; personal resources; ethical demands; emotional demands; survivor; complex systems psychodynamic approach; emotion work; relation work

Chapter.  8386 words. 

Subjects: Urban and Rural Studies

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