The Relational Resilience of Street-Connected Young People in Hazard Prone Areas of Jamaica

Research output: Thesis (awarded by external institution)Doctoral Thesis


This thesis is an exploration into the lives of street-connected young people living in disaster prone communities in the Caribbean country of Jamaica. Street-connected young people’s lives have been well documented over the past few decades in relation to their immediate spaces, activities and more recently, relationships. Street-connected young people have been found to be part of wider social structures in society which have bearing on how they prepare for, react to, negotiate and overcome challenges that they are faced with, both at the local level and on a much larger scale, including adverse events like ‘natural’ disasters. While this study appreciates the progression of the literature on this once overlooked social group, it suggests that there is still a gap in the literature in respect to how street-connected young people’s relationality is understood and explored.

Jamaican street-connected young people’s relationality is complex and formed of context-specific networks and relationships. These not only include close knit relationships with family and friends but also wider community relationships with neighbours and extended family and relationships with people out with the community in other parts of Jamaica and abroad. The wider political, social and economic structures in place nationally which street-connected young people are embroiled are additionally considered, particularly in how it influences the coping mechanisms of street-connected young people.

This thesis draws on street-connected young people’s relationality to examine how it shapes their resilience and to what extent their positon within this wider web of relationships in Jamaica is crucial to how they prepare and manage the hurricanes and flooding taking place there. Extant studies on young people’s resilience have begun to appreciate the role of the social context and relational networks in enhancing or reducing their resilience, looking beyond traditional studies focusing on an individual’s traits or personal attribute. In this research I have expanded upon the concept of relational resilience to look at how it manifests itself in the lives of street-connected young people, an area currently understudied.

A participatory ethnography approach has been adopted in the methodology, using a range of participatory methods to develop a comprehensive and holistic understanding of life for street-connected young people, with the view to establishing their situation in disaster events, how they demonstrate resilience when faced with adversity and how best to tailor national disaster risk management and reduction strategies to suit them and their communities’ needs. By using methods which encourage participation among everyone, a space of collaboration and knowledge exchange can be generated to gain the most informed responses and outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Dundee
  • van Blerk, Lorraine, Supervisor, External person
Award date25 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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