Using life history calendars to survey vulnerability

TitleUsing life history calendars to survey vulnerability
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsMorselli, D, Dasoki, N, Gabriel, R, Gauthier, J-A, Henke, J, Le Goff, J-M
EditorOris, M, Roberts, C, Joye, D, Ernst Stähli, M
Book TitleSurveying human vulnerabilities across the life course
Series TitleLife Course Research and Social Policies
Place PublishedNew York
ISBN Number978-3-319-24157-9

This chapter discusses the rationale for the use of life history calendars in studying social and psychological vulnerability. Pragmatic and substantive aspects suggest that life history calendars are powerful tools for retrospective surveys on vulnerability. Life history calendars are substantially more cost-effective and easier to implement than prospective longitudinal designs while being in line with the life course paradigm. They can be used as follows: to investigate how people react to negative life events and which resources come into play to overcome conditions of vulnerability; to understand processes of accumulation of (dis)advantages in relation to the concept of vulnerability; and to observe how such processes are constructed across the life course and across life domains. In addition life history calendars address the interconnection between the factual events and their subjective perception by participants. Thus data produced by life history calendars are suitable to different paradigms that apply life histories as a socio-cognitive process. This chapter presents four tools developed at the University of Lausanne and the University of Geneva with a special focus on the operationalisation of different aspects of vulnerability such as the study of accumulation and diffusion effects of (dis)advantages across life domains.