Family Resilience Following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Theory and Evidence

Family resilience raises the question of how family units adapt to external shocks. One notable form of such shocks are disasters. Research shows that disasters are occurring with greater frequency and severity throughout the world. Natural and human-made hazards pose an ongoing threat to positive family functioning everywhere, making it difficult to ignore the importance of disaster resilience for research and practice concerning family wellbeing. In this chapter, we examine the issue of family resilience in the context of disaster. We begin by articulating what is meant by hazards and disasters and how that links to family resilience. In doing so, we stress the importance of adaptive capacity and trajectories over time. We then provide an illustration of ongoing research related to the Resilient Children, Youth, and Communities (RCYC) project, a joint venture between researchers at Louisiana State University (LSU) and Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP), concerning family resilience in the context of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. We close by outlining considerations for research, policy, and practice.