Resilience of Rural Scottish Communities: Community strengths in a complex adaptive systems framework
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Traditionally rural communities are characterized by resources such as community spirit and high place attachment. Currently rural communities across the globe are facing several demographic challenges which raised interest in the concept of community resilience by scholars and policy makers. Strikingly, however, is that those traditional community characteristics are found to foster resilience. This study aims to better understand the process of resilience building so that rural communities can become more resilient through effective use of their strengths. To this end insights from complex adaptive system theory are used which makes resilience an ongoing process of experiencing adversities to which communities adapt through co-evolution and self-organization. A key theme in this perspective is human agency which helps explain how and why community members respond to changes the way they do. Adopting this perspective comes with several methodological implications and has resulted into a comparative research design that through a mixed-methods approach analyzes the resilience of the communities Edinbane and Dunvegan located in the Scottish highlands. The central argument that arises out of the findings is that in rural communities small changes can have large (un)desired consequences.