Additive and subtractive resilience strategies as enablers of biographical reinvention: A qualitative study of ex-smokers and never-smokers
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology and Social Science
The notion of developing resilience is becoming increasingly important as a way of responding to the social determinants of poor health, particularly in disadvantaged groups. It is hypothesized that resilient individuals and communities are able to ‘bounce back’ from the adversities they face. This paper explores the processes involved in building resilience as an outcome in relation to both quitting smoking and never smoking. The study involved 93 qualitative, oral-history interviews with participants from population groups with high and enduring smoking rates in Adelaide, Australia, and was essentially interested in how some people in these groups managed to quit or never start smoking in the face of adversities, in comparison to a group of smokers. Our key findings relate to what we call additive and subtractive resilience strategies, which focus on the practices, roles and activities that individuals either ‘took on’ or ‘left behind’ in order to quit smoking or remain abstinent. The theoretical lenses we use to understand these resilience strategies relate to biographical reinforcement and biographical reinvention, which situate the resilience strategies in a broader ‘project of the self’, often in relation to attempting to develop ‘healthy bodies’ and ‘healthy biographies’.