Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Social Resilience: Shifting from an Individual to a Shared Social Model for Building Resilience


Cite this article:

2022 EPIC Proceedings, ISSN 1559-8918,

Through Designing Your Future workshops at Cook County Jail in Chicago as part of WIND (Women Initiating New Directions) programming, we have had the chance to connect with incarcerated women awaiting trial. From these interactions with women who, despite tremendous life adversity, are extremely resilient, we have realized that the notion of resilience is a double-edged sword. While heroic, the myth of individual resilience, in the context of criminal justice, may simultaneously allow society to abdicate responsibility for those in jail.

In this PechaKucha, we propose a reframe, from individual to social resilience, which holds us all accountable. Through understanding the many types of adversity faced by at-risk women throughout their lives, especially mental health and substance abuse challenges, we show historical and current precedents for more humane solutions that enhance individual resilience via social support. The presentation concludes with a call to action: guiding principles for social resilience.

Key words: women, incarceration, mental health, moral treatment

Female detainee at Cook County Jail in pink scrubs leaning on a table. Handwritten text by a female detainee reads, “I'm from a community where it takes a village.”

WIND program participant, 2021. Photo: Lili Kobielski, 2018


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