Photo Hugues Siegenthaler

LIVES’ PhD students or affiliated confront their thesis project to experts

The “Doctoriales” 2012 of the NCCR hosted by the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva enabled 56 graduate students to present the status of their work to eminent representatives of the social sciences. Two days of stress, but also of fun.

Knotted stomachs, rashes and palpitations were the order of the first “Doctoriales” of NCCR LIVES on 13 and 14 February, 2012 in Lausanne. Interviewed by two experts per session, 56 doctoral students had 20 minutes to explain their research - its methodological framework, its methodology, its first results. Most presentations were held in English, the language of much of the expert - LIVES project managers or Advisory Board members from European and American universities.

"It was a good exercise in scale," says a French student, "but also an additional source of stress," adds a fellow Hispanic. Both note that the level of debate may have suffered from low oral expression and comprehension by the students. "I did not catch all the comments that were made about my work, one must admit, but I learned a lot after the session by talking face to face with an expert, who gave me excellent bibliographic advices and indicated a database that I did not know."

The presentations covered a wide range of issues addressed by the National Center of Competence in Research: family, work, health, migration, ages and methodology, almost always with the issue of vulnerability in the background. For PhD students, it was interesting to get feedback from other disciplines than their own: sociologists were interviewed by epidemiologists, demographers by economists, etc.

"A LIVES spirit"

In addition to promoting exchanges with renowned professors from several branches of the humanities, the “Doctoriales” were appreciated by the young researchers for the sheer pleasure of being among peers - usually in multiple locations -, to share their difficulties and learn from the others’ research during the sessions and outside, in the hallways or during meals. "It's good to compare themselves to others," said a fourth year doctoral student, "and it was simply cool to be all together. "

"We think that these Doctoriales helped to develop a LIVES spirit ", said after at the end of the two days Prof. Michel Oris, co-director of the center, and Delphine Fagot, head of the doctoral program, concluding: "What struck me is the playful side these days, despite the general stress... "

Two members of LIVES publish a book on family care for the elderly

Two members of LIVES publish a book on family care for the elderly

The results of the study SwissAgeCare / AgeCare Switzerland Latin, commissioned by the association of home care in Switzerland, were published in January 2012 by Hans Huber editions.

Edited by professors Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello and François Höpflinger, both members of the NCCR LIVES, with a foreword by Dr. Stephanie Mörikofer-Zwez, former president of the Swiss support services and home care, the book "Familial caregivers of elderly persons. Problems, needs, resources and cooperation with home-care professionals" is part of the series "Practical Nursing".
The research team from the Universities of Bern and Zürich highlights the problems, needs, resources, and the living conditions of family cargivers of elderly persons and their collaboration with home-care professionals. Thus, demographic, epidemiological and social developments are described and analyzed, as well as their impact on current and future needs of family caregiving and professional home-care. The study also highlights who is responsible of the familal care , how, why and under which conditions. This broadens the scope of action in view of a precise support, adapted to the demand and of a discharge of family caregivers.

NCCR's vice-director on the front page of UNIL's website

A portrait of Prof. Laura Bernardi retraces his biography from Rome to Lausanne via Belgium, the United States and Germany. A trajectory marked by the interest for mixed methods for this demographer inspired by anthropology and specialized in fertility issues.

See the portrait of prof. Laura-Bernardi, vice-director of NCCR LIVES, published by the Office of european research projects of University of Lausanne (Euresearch).

Professor Dario Spini invited to the Black Movie Festival in Geneva

The director of the NCCR LIVES will participate in a roundtable on the theme of "Figures of alienation" with the professors Sandro Cattacin and Jean Ziegler on February 21, 2012.

Resolutely against the current standardized cinemas, innovative, uninhibited, Black Movie offers each year for 10 days a program of emerging talents and established filmmakers whose films remain unreleased in Switzerland. Anchored in the contemporary world, a reflection of its aesthetic and social movements, it develops a thematic approach and focuses its sections around social issues or current events.

From February 17 to 27, the festival will offer about sixty films, including 10 in competition, plus a series of children's films as well as workshops and concerts. Twenty filmmakers will be present and two roundtables organized.

The one on the figures of alienation, February 21 at 7 pm to Function: Cinema, Grütli Art House, will bring together three experts in various fields of investigation: the economy with Jean Ziegler, the sociology with Sandro Cattacin and the psychology with Dario Spini, director of the NCCR "LIVES - Overcoming Vulnerability: Life Course Perspectives." This debate is co-organized with the bi-monthly La Cité and will be led by Isabelle Csupor sociologist.

See the full program of the festival

NCCR LIVES organizes its first "Doctoriales"

On 13 and 14 February 2012 in Vidy (Lausanne), 57 LIVES doctoral students or affiliated to this National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) will present their thesis project in front of a series of experts. The program is available.

In four parallel sessions per half day, PhD candidates will present the status of their research as part of a wide range of themes covered by the NCCR "LIVES - Overcoming Vulnerability, lifecourse perspectives": marriage, parenting, passage to adulthood, old age, social inequality, career paths, unemployment, migration...

They will be heard by a series of internal and external experts to LIVES, a total of 24 professors and researchers in sociology, psychology, social psychology, demography, socio-economics.

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Looking at the social networks of unemployed people in Vaud

A questionnaire will be distributed to 5000 people looking for work during the months of February and March 2012, first step in an analysis of the impact of links with the human environment in access to employment. A project of the NCCR LIVES, hosted by the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva.

As from February 1st, 2012, and for two months, the newly unemployed people following the collective briefing on the unemployment insurance of Canton de Vaud (a meeting named “SICORP”, gateway to accessing the unemployment benefits), will receive a questionnaire of ten pages with multiple choice questions about their social network at large (parents, friends, neighbors, former colleagues, community associations, etc.). Participants will have twenty minutes to complete this survey related to the NCCR LIVES individual project (IP) No 4, directed by Professor Jean-Marc Falter, entitled Economic inequalities: Towards pathways out of vulnerabilityy.

During the next twelve months, people having found a new job will receive a second questionnaire. Those who are still unemployed after one year will receive a third type of form at the end of these twelve months, step considered as the transition to long-term unemployment.

Led by doctoral students Anna Von Ow and Nicolas Turtschi with post-doc Patrick Arni under the guidance of professors Giuliano Bonoli, Rafael Lalive and Daniel Oesch, such a survey on social networks and access to employment has never been done yet in Switzerland. "To our knowledge, only four studies were conducted in the world on the subject, but in different contexts," says Nicolas Turtschi, who holds a master's degree in social sciences.

The power of close relationships

The project is a continuation of the theory of Mark Granovetter on the strength of weak ties. In the early 70's, the latter argued that the distant network of a person - weak links - better than the closest - strong links – give better access to the flow of information, necessary process in reaching employment. Indeed, the usual circle of relationships does generally not bring new useful information. This theory is now called into question because it is believed that the group of intimates has other functions: it will be easier for example to be recommended by a relative than by a vague acquaintance.

The first data collected in the survey will be coded quickly, with the participation of two students from the IDHEAP and analyzed in conjunction with the results of the other two questionnaires. In parallel, Nicolas Turtschi will conduct qualitative interviews with about forty people suffering from the greatest obstacles to employment integration (age, education level, migration patterns, etc.).

Finally, a test will be conducted on the impact of information on the activation of social networks. Half of the hundred SICORP conducted in February and March will offer an awareness module given by the advisors of the regional employment offices (ORP). It will be possible to compare the results of those encouraged to mobilize their communities with those of the unemployed who have not had this type of incentive. This measure is of great interest to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), which funds a part of the project.

The State of Canton de Vaud was another valuable ally of the research. "We have excellent contacts with the Employment Service, who supported us, and with the nearly 60 ORP counselors involved throughout the territory, whom we met in January for a half day. They were extremely motivated and positive", says Nicolas Turtschi.

Informal Economy, Vulnerabilities and Employment

Prof. Michel Oris, professor at the University of Geneva and co-director of NCCR LIVES, will open an international conference on "Informal Economy, Vulnerabilities and Employment" on February 9th and 10th, 2012, Geneva.

This international conference, organized by the Institute of Socioeconomics of the University of Geneva, in collaboration with the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium) and the International Labour Organization, is concerned with the interactions between informal economy, vulnerabilities and employment. It will bring over thirty experts from Africa, Asia, America and Europe together for an intensive two-days conference held in English at the University of Geneva.

Conference venue: Room M1160, Unimail, Bd Pont-d'Arve 40.

Admission is free but registration is necessary. Please sign in to <>.

More information: Contact:, or

NCCR LIVES at the congress of the Swiss Society of Gerontology

Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello, professor at the Institute of Psychology at the University of Bern and head of an individual project within the PRN LIVES, will speak at the SSG convention of 2012 at the University "Miséricorde" of Fribourg. Posters on researches conducted by teams of professors Dario Spini and Michel Oris, respectively director and co-director of the NCCR LIVES, will also be presented during the congress.

The conference of Prof. Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello will take place in plenary on Friday, February 3 at 12:20. It will be titled "Grand Ages: solidarity between generations as a family challenge" and will be held in German.

As part of the National centre of competence in research (NCCR) LIVES, Prof. Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello is responsible for the individual project No. 12, "Vulnerability and Development: Developmental dynamics and differential effects of the loss of an intimate partner in the second half of life."

During the congress of the SSG, an exhibition and a poster competition of various researches will be held on Friday 3 all day. Several researchers from LIVES will present their work, supervised by Prof. Dario Spini, Director of the NCCR, University of Lausanne, and Prof. Michel Oris, co-director, University of Geneva. A session with the authors will run from 10:20 to 11:00. The award ceremony will take place at 15:30.

Analyzing the relationship between trajectories and predictors

Matthias Studer, doctoral student at the Department of Economics, University of Geneva, a member of LIVES, will speak on Tuesday, January 24th, 2012, at 12:30 at the premises of the NCCR LIVES, Vidy Building, Room 531.

  • Meeting "Methods and Research": dispersion analysis of sequences of states, trajectories and links between variables
  • Organized by Prof. André Berchtold, senior lecturer and fellow at PRN LIVE, a joint seminar between the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (SSP) of the University of Lausanne and the Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences (FORS)

The sequence analysis has become one of the preferred methods to analyze the trajectories. It allows to study in a holistic recurring patterns and taking into account the multiplicity of possible states. Technically, this is based on a measure of distance between trajectories, which allows to compare them. In practice, these distances are often used to construct a typology of trajectories and trajectories identify types.

Beyond the descriptive approach, the focus is typically to identify factors that influence the construction of the path. To do this, it is customary to relate the types obtained with other factors of interest, such as gender, using logistic regression or tests of association. However, focusing on the types of trajectories, we lose information, which can lead to misleading conclusions. We present a set of methods that can analyze the relationship between the sequences on the one hand and one or more explanatory factors on the other. Originally used in ecology, these methods rely on the definition of a measure of dispersion of the sequences and on a generalization of the principles of analysis of variance (ANOVA) for all types of dissimilarities. Conceptually, these methods allow a paradigm shift. Rather than relying on the search for models of trajectories, we consider that they are inserted in multiple contexts that influence - in their own way - the construction of a trajectory. These methods thus complement traditional sequence analysis, primarily exploratory, with a confirmatory approach.

Matthias Studer holds a DAS in sociology from the University of Geneva. He is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Economics, University of Geneva. Inside NCCR LIVES, he participates to IP6 and IP14.

International Symposium "Work, Gender and Aging"

The international symposium "Work, Gender and Aging: What dynamics of discrimination?" will be held Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 17:00 and Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 18:00 in Anthropole UNIL, Dorigny, Room 2044.

How do the "seniors" invest and stage of their life course? How women, in particular, are they affected by the promotion of "active aging"? The event is organized by the Gender Studies Centre in Liège and the Laboratory of Sociology (Labso), with support from NCCR LIVES.

Full program on

First site visit by the Swiss National Science Foundation

The first Site Visit of the Review Panel of NCCR LIVES will be held at the University of Lausanne on November 14th and 15th, 2011.

During those days, the Direction and the IP leaders will present the actual state of the projects, along with the main structural aspects: knowledge and technology transfer, education and training, advancement of women, and communication.

Demographics in the twentieth century

Several researchers involved in the NCCR LIVES will participate in a workshop and an evening debate on the theme of "The demographics in the twentieth century practice, concepts and methods" on September 26, 2011 in Geneva, Uni Dufour, room U408.

This study day and evening debate will be devoted to discussion on demography in the twentieth century, the concepts and tools it mobilizes, and on scientific and profane practices, their achievements and results.

It is organized by Virginia Barrusse De Luca, a visiting professor at the University of Geneva, Maison de l'Histoire, and Michel Oris, professor at the University of Geneva, NCCR LIVES and Institute of Population Studies and the life course.

For PRN LIVES, the participants will also be Laura Bernardi, Dominique Joye and Jean-Marie Le Goff, professors at the University of Lausanne, and Julia Henke, Claudine Sauvain-Dugerdil and Gilbert Ritschard, researcher and professors at the University of Geneva.

Full program on

Vulnerability of Life Trajectories in Turbulent Times

The NCCR LIVES, in collaboration with the Swiss Society of Sociology, organises a plenary session during the ESA Congress 2011, entitled "Vulnerability of Life Trajectories in Turbulent Times". This plenary session will be held on September 8, 2011 in Geneva.

The chair Laura Bernardi, Deputy Director of the NCCR LIVES, and the discussant Michel Oris, Co-Director of the NCCR LIVES, and Eric Widmer, Director of I-DEMO, invite the Professors Hans-Peter Blossfeld, Hannah Brückner, and Dale Dannefer on September 8. More information on ESA dedicated website.


Hans-Peter Blossfeld: Globalization, Rising Uncertainty and the Vulnerable. Transition from Youth to Adulthood in Modern Societies

Increasing uncertainty about economic and social developments is a definitive feature of globalization in advanced economies. However, increasing uncertainty does not impact all individuals in the same way. There are institutional settings and social structures, historically grown and country-specific, that determine the degree to which people are affected by rising uncertainty. This paper develops a multi-level theoretical framework and summarizes the main empirical results from the GLOBALIFE project. There is empirical evidence that youth in all countries are clearly exposed to more uncertainty in the course of globalization. Yet uncertainty is unequal, with risk accumulating in certain groups, generally those at the bottom. Uncertainty impacts family formation, with those in more precarious positions more likely to postpone or forgo partnership and parenthood. Youth develop rational responses to this uncertainty, which the paper identifies in the form of diverse behavioral strategies. A notable result is that young men and women are affected and respond differently to uncertainty, resulting in an unmistakable gender-specific strategy, particularly in the male-breadwinner societies. The paper demonstrates overwhelming support for the expectation that nation-specific institutions serve to shield or funnel this uncertainty in unique ways and to particular groups of youth.

Dale Dannefer: Vulnerabilities of the Life Course, Vulnerabilities of Knowledge and “Sociological Imagination"

Despite the technical and economic gains of the 20th century, a renewed array of challenges confront individuals throughout the life course. With economic retrenchment, globalization and pressures to scale back the welfare state, many individuals in post-industrial societies are likely to face increased vulnerability and risk. It is important to distinguish such societal trends and disruptions from the basic structure of cumulative disadvantage (CDA) processes, which are endemic to the life structure of each succeeding cohort. Nevertheless, threats to economic security and well-being may amplify tendencies toward CDA, as the challenges facing the disadvantaged are further amplified, and as the effects of strains in one domain reverberate in other important domains such as health and family life. Beyond such straightforward and relatively direct effects on individual life chances, present social strains can also affect the public definition and the political and intellectual framing of the problem, adding further to multiple kinds of vulnerability. Because such influences (e.g., the tendency to frame the crisis in public discourse as one that has its source and solution at the individual level) are less direct and immediate, their impact may be unnoticed. As an example, I consider in this paper the topic of genomic research, with special attention to gene-environment (G-E) interactions and their relation to the general public narrative addressing the current economic distress. I review the public presentation of these scientific claims, with special attention to the response of sociologists and other social scientists to them. I contend that the social science community, from which something more might be expected, has allowed oversimplified interpretations of genetic and biological causation to go unchallenged, and has been slow to recognize the new vistas of sociological explanation that are opened by such work. The uncritical acceptance of unidirectional, individual-level causal ideas entails a co-optation to forces that increase the vulnerability of the disadvantaged and that simulatenously renders sociology and the sociological imagination itself vulnerable to intellectual containment. To the extent that these intellectual vulnerabilities lead to a public vacuum of awareness of the power of social forces, they may also contribute further to the vulnerabilities of those most disadvantaged by offering an implicit endorsement of the dominant ideology. I conclude by considering how an enlivened “sociological imagination” can contribute, within and beyond sociology, to a more adequate understanding of the processes at work in people’s lives.

Second Module of the Doctoral Program

The second module of the Doctoral Program will be held at the University of Lausanne, on May 19th and 20th (Vidy, 4th floor).

Entitled «Data management and analysis», it will give PhD students methodological skills, and introduce the statistical software R.

Methodological issues, workshop

The goal of the workshop is to deal with various methodological questions implied when researching on the transition to adulthood of second generation migrants. It will be held on May 30-31, 2011 in Geneva.

This workshop is part of NCCR LIVES and it is organized in the frame of the LIVES research project: From youth to adulthood: Second generation migrants and their integration in the Swiss Society. The main language of the workshop is English.

Workshop Program

Organizers: Claudio Bolzman, Laura Bernardi, Jean-Marie Le Goff, with the collaboration of Andrés Gomensoro and Andrés Guarín
Date: May 30 & 31, 2011
Place: HETS, Geneva

Opening of the NCCR LIVES

The NCCR LIVES - Overcoming Vulnerability: life course perspective - has been opened on March 22 in Lausanne at the Grange de Dorigny.

The event has been attended by Mrs Anne-Catherine Lyon, State Councillor and Head of the Department of Education, Youth and Culture, Mr Jean-Dominique Vassalli, Rector of the University of Geneva and Mr. Dominique Arlettaz, Rector of the University of Lausanne.

The speeches have been followed by a scientific lecture in English by Professor Victor Marshall of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. The event concluded with a cocktail followed by a theatrical production performed by the Dahlia Production Company.

Slides of the presentation during the inauguration.