Vulnerability of lone parents: social policy support makes all the difference
Dr. Ornella Larenza

Vulnerability of lone parents: social policy support makes all the difference

In her thesis entitled "Social policy shaping the life-course: A study on lone parents' vulnerability", Dr Ornella Larenza demonstrates that access to social policies is vital to prevent lone parents from finding themselves in situations of vulnerability.

Lone parents often experience a deterioration in their health, as well as their financial situation. Observing this reality, Dr Ornella Larenza devoted her thesis – which she successfully presented on 3 May 2019 – to studying the growing diversity of lone parents. She also investigated how social policies can play a part in increasing their vulnerability throughout their life course.

The impact of unpaid child maintenance on other aspects of life

Dr Larenza concentrated her research on two specific areas of social policy: payment of child maintenance, and receipt of state welfare benefits.

With regard to the first of these, she showed that the legal framework governing the execution of child support obligations is only of limited assistance to mothers confronted with breaches of parental obligations towards their children. Furthermore, not all mothers react to such breaches, since they are placed in a moral dilemma with regard to the other parent and that person's relationship with the children. Some mothers ultimately adapt to total non-compliance by the other parent by changing their career path, which has repercussions for other areas of their lives. For example, some mothers increase their working hours, but this compels them to take time away from their children and give up the relationship with them that they truly wish for.

With regard to the second, the researcher illustrated how lone parents respond when faced with difficulties accessing state benefits (e.g. by seeking alternative sources of financial support from friends and family, by fighting the authorities which prevent them from receiving benefits, or by adapting their life course to the conditions imposed on access to benefits) and how these circumstances may not only affect their financial situation, but also bring about a more complex set of changes in several areas of their lives, including consequences for their relationship with their partner and their role as a parent.

A combination of analytical methods to achieve a global perspective on the life course

On behalf of the panel*, Prof. Eva Green, Vice-Dean at the University of Lausanne, also congratulated Ms Larenza for her "innovative approach which cuts across different domains of social policy, and for the rigour of the study's qualitative longitudinal analysis".

Dr Larenza conducted a case study combining cross-sectional (synchronic) and longitudinal (diachronic) qualitative analyses. This study allowed her to show that the vulnerability of lone parents is a process, and that the way it develops depends simultaneously on the ingredients it contains (stress factors and resources available to the individual) and how these are arranged over time. Therefore, it is not merely necessary to consider negative consequences, but also to take into account a more complex dynamic between stress factors and resources.

Social policies may play a part in this vulnerability process as ingredients helping to form complex constellations of problems. In particular, they may take on the role of stress factors where a lone parent finds the support structure is absent or hard to access, or that support is inadequate. They may in the end shape the vulnerability process for lone parents, and generate repercussions in several areas of their lives and over the course of time.

Finally, the study shows that the degree of agency (capacity to react) of lone parents experiencing vulnerability reflects the configuration of the ingredients in the process, and that this agency may be significantly oriented by their relationships with important people such as their children, former partner and family of origin. This capacity to react particularly depends on the parent's ability to access resources and to mobilise these in order to overcome stress factors.

* Members of the panel: Prof. Eva Green, Vice-Dean (Chair); Prof. Laura Bernardi, Institute of Social Sciences (thesis supervisor); Ms Claire Bidart, Research Director at the University of Aix-Marseille CNRS (National Centre of Scientific Research); Prof. Giuliano Bonoli, IDHEAP (Graduate School of Public Administration); Prof. Jane Millar, University of Bath.

The 6th International REIACTIS Conference

The 6th International REIACTIS Conference is organised by REIACTIS and the University of Lorraine.

In 2002, the United Nations (UN) adopted the slogan “Towards a society for all ages.” Almost 20 years later, and more than 70 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the attainment of an inclusive society is still a distant dream. 

REIACTIS invites researchers in the humanities and social sciences, as well as policymakers and ordinary citizens, to meet on our international stage at Metz in order to imagine and debate what inclusive societies in an ageing world might look like. 

To tackle these issues, the international conference proposes to focus on general conceptual contexts and three main themes. Proposals should select one of the following four options, although you are free to propose something different. 

  • Inclusive society: cross-cutting concepts and theoretical issues 
  • Theme 1: Inclusion and the life course 
  • Theme 2: Inclusive society and environmental perspectives 
  • Theme 3: Inclusive society, citizenship and social participation 

Key information

  • The international conference is organized by REIACTIS and Lorraine University together with scientific networks and societies: CR6 of the International Association of Francophone Sociology, the RT7 of the French Association of Sociology (AF7), and the French Institute on Longevity of Ageing (ILVV). 

  • Proposals for papers are to be submitted on the REIACTIS website dedicated to the conference (www.reiactis.com) between 22 April and 15 June 2019. 
  • Proposals for individual papers should be no longer than 5,000 characters, including spaces. 
  • Proposals for the roundtable (3 to 4 speakers at most) should be no longer than 4,000 characters each, including spaces, and a summary of 2,000 characters, including spaces. 
  • Proposals for a poster should be no longer than 5,000 characters, including spaces. 
  • Assessment of proposals by the International Scientific Committee and responses to authors will be completed by 20 July 2019. 
  • A pre-programme of the conference will be available around 20 July 2019. 
  • Contact: contact@reiactis.com

OFFRE D'EMPLOI - Postdoc ou un.e assistant.e en Méthodologie et Analyse de données en Psychologie,

Mise au concours d'une offre pour un postdoc ou un.e assistant.e en Méthodologie et Analyse de données en Psychologie, avec le prof. Paolo Ghisletta

Encadrement des Travaux dirigés des cours de Méthodologie et analyse de données du Bachelor et du Master en Psychologie. Participation au service de consultation en Méthodologie et analyse de données et à l’encadrement d’étudiants.  

Information

  • Entrée en fonction: 01.09.2019
  • Taux de travail: 100% (assistant) or 80% (postdoc)
  • Lieu de travail: Université de Genève
  • Délai de candidature: 31 mai 2019

JOB OFFER - Doctoral Student in the field of career research and life course studies

NCCR LIVES invites applications for a 4-year position as doctoral student in the field of career research and life course studies, under the supervision of Prof. Felix Bühlmann.

As a doctoral student in the IP 7 on “Career paths” the successful candidate will be able to formulate his or her own PhD project based on a combined panel and calendar data study on careers. The thesis, under the supervision of Prof. Felix Bühlmann and Prof. Jonas Masdonati is expected to focus on how life events shape occupational trajectories. The tasks include conducting a calendar based questionnaire study, building a coherent theoretical framework, developing adequate research questions, analyzing the data, and publishing results.

The thesis will provide valuable answers to relevant questions in our current societies, such as: what types of life and career paths characterize workers today? Have career trajectories become more insecure? What impacts do unstable trajectories have on career adaptability, on feelings of occupational security or on subjective well-being? How do life events shape workers’ career trajectories?

Job information

  • Starting date: 01.09.2019
  • Duration of contract: 1 year, renewable contract for 3 years, with a maximum duration of 4 years.
  • Employment rate: 100%
  • Workplace: University of Lausanne, Géopolis
  • Annual gross salary: CHF 47’040.- (first year)
  • Application deadline: 31 May 2019

More information and applications on the UNIL Career portal. 

JOB OFFER - Doctoral Student SNSF in Quantitative Social Research

NCCR LIVES invites applications for a 4-year position as doctoral student SNSF in Quantitative Social Research under the supervision of Prof. Daniel Oesch.

The doctoral student will be able to write a PhD within a new project that revisits a large sample of displaced industrial workers 10-12 years after they lost their job in Switzerland. These workers were surveyed a first time in 2011, 2-3 years after their firms closed down, and will be surveyed a second time in 2020 to provide insight into the long-term consequences that plant closure and mass displacement have on people’s lives.

The doctoral student will be able to participate in the development of the questionnaire and the fielding of the survey. He or she can then fully use these data to write his or her PhD thesis on topics such as unemployment scarring, job loss and family trajectories, job mobility and career trajectories, or some other aspect of life course sociology. There is much scope for innovation and new ideas, be it in terms of data collection (life calendars, in-depth interviews), methods or topics.

Job information

  • Starting date: 01.09.2019
  • Duration of contract: 1 year, renewable contract for 3 years, with a maximum duration of 4 years.
  • Employment rate: 100%
  • Workplace: University of Lausanne, Géopolis
  • Annual gross salary: CHF 47’040.- (first year)
  • Application deadline: 2 June 2019

More information and applications on the UNIL Career portal