”Whatever Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stronger”: A Sociological Analysis of Uses of the Concept of Resilience. The Case of Boris Cyrulnik’s Self-Help Books Readers

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Abstract

This article offers a social science analysis of the resilience concept’s success and common sense uses. Based on a sample of letters from the readers of the French author Boris Cyrulnik’s self-help best-sellers, the article first depicts the characteristics of the attitude of the letters’ authors towards Cyrulnik and what they expect from him. Second, it proposes to understand resilience as a language game used to communicate about suffering and then analyses why certain readers feel resilient while others don’t. It concludes that this way of reacting to adversity (i. e., tapping one’s inner resources, never giving up) is particularly desirable in a context where autonomy has become more prestigious.

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