Ajdacic Lena - Top decision makers in the financial sphere - careers, elite coordination and the spread of power

PhD Supervisor : Felix Bühlmann


From the 1980s onwards, financial markets grew in size, a wave of mergers transformed the business landscape and the power constellations of actors in the global economy were facing profound changes. In the wake of these transformations, around the early 2000s, the top five hedge fund managers made higher earnings than the global top 500 CEOs altogether. The PhD project aims to investigate the careers, networks and practices of these high fee earning individuals, who are at the helm of firms such as hedge funds, private equity firms, sovereign wealth funds and accountancy networks and the role they play in the current, finance-led capitalism. More specifically, the project revolves around three dimensions: access to top positions within accountancy firms, coordination of different subgroups of financial intermediaries through multi-layered networks and spread of compensation and offshorisation practices across the network. The research will take advantage of the industry for financial and company data, that generates information on millions of companies and top executives world-wide. To deal with these large data sets, the project relies on various quantitative approaches, ranging from multiple correspondence analysis to network analysis and regression models.

Alves Barbeiro Ana Isabel - Human rights, institutional violence and life course: Experiences, representations and attitudes of Portuguese immigrants in Switzerland

PhD Supervisor: Dario Spini

The phenomena of migration, as well as the policies and the representations associated with them, constitute a field concentrated in the paradoxical relationships between rights, their universality and their violations.This research aims to study the social representations of immigrant rights and tolerance towards the violations of these rights. It aims specifically to understand how these representations are shaped by experiences of institutional violence over the course of the biographical trajectories of immigrants and by the strategies they mobilise to cope with this violence. These phenomena will be studied with a focus on migration trajectories (namely, those of Portuguese immigrants in Switzerland). Qualitative and quantitative procedures will be articulated through the collection of life stories and life calendars, as well as the quantitative study of attitudes and social representations of the rights of migrants and of institutional violence towards migrants.   


Araujo Pedro - Elites and Occupational Careers in the Swiss Banking Industry (1980-2010)

PhD Supervisor : Felix Bühlmann

This thesis endeavours to understand the evolution of the Swiss Banking Industry between 1980 and 2010 from a life course perspective. It concentrates on two groups of actors: Elites and Young professionals. The study will address the two following research questions: 1) We want to explore how the historical development of the Swiss banking field has affected the composition of its elites. What type of resources do the banking elites possess? How have they been acquired and how have they evolved across the two selected periods? 2) We seek to examine what are the careers patterns and the representations of a cohort of young banking professionals. What are their educational and occupational trajectories? How do they differ in terms of resources? To what extend do the careers of elites and young professionals share common characteristics? In order to tackle these questions we apply a mixed method design that combines sequential analysis, multiple correspondence analysis and biographical interviews. We use an existing database on Swiss elites that we will extend by the collection of additional data on banking elites and we will conduct a survey with young professionals working for less than 10 years in the bank field.


Bian Fei - Partner Effects on Labour Market Outcomes: A Comparative Study

PhD supervisor : Leen Vandecasteele


Conducted as part of the SNF research project “Coupled Inequalities. Trends and differences between countries in the role of the partner's socio-economic resources in professional careers”, this thesis aims to investigate how country characteristics, such as economic environment, family policies and gender culture, matter in moderating partner effects on labour market outcomes. It furthermore explores whether women have a stronger influence on their husbands’ employment nowadays than in the past and to what extent this cohort effect is related to changes in the country context. Additional research questions revolve around the variations of partner effects between different types of partnerships to estimate the combined effect of marital status and the partner’s position on people’s employment careers. In general, the purpose of this thesis project is to understand individual labour market behaviour by contextualizing it in household-level as well as country-level settings. This will hopefully inform policy makers by providing a decision-making basis for appropriate labour market regulations and family policies to reduce social inequalities. 



Brandalesi Vanessa - Normative motherhood Its implications in the life course of women without children

PhD Supervisor : Laura Bernardi 

I am interested in women without children and the implication of their condition for their life course. For approaching this subject I decided to use three sociological perspectives that are, complementary and essential for the comprehension of this question: gender perspective, life course paradigm and social networks. Many Western feminists have described the existence of a normative motherhood applicable to women. Women who are childless are perceived as “against the norm” and not meeting the social expectation. To answer this question, I use in my research, three perspectives that are complementary and allow analysing this phenomenon at three levels: individual, couple and social networks. Life course perspective offers the advantage to conceptualize “childless” not as one-point in time choice but as a process. Studying how normative motherhood influences women means also to investigate the woman’s partner role. The gender perspective adds to it that the roles and the interactions within the couple are gendered. Finally, the social network perspective will allow me to tackle the peer groups’ influence on childbearing. My data are semi-structured interviews with couples, and each partner separately. My sample is composed of heterosexual couples, living in Switzerland, where the woman is childless.


Burgos Paredes Raul - Ecuadorian immigration in Switzerland. Transnational social networks, social capital and its influence in structural and socio-cultural integration.

PdD Supervisor : Laura Bernardi

My dissertation will endeavor to understand structural and socio-cultural integration of Ecuadorian immigrants in Switzerland and what is the impact that social capital and transnational activities may have in it. Empirical results in the literature on the relationship that transnational activities have with integration are divergent, while it has been found that some forms of social capital aid integration of non-western immigrants in Europe. In trying to operationalize what is actually the concept of social capital means in the case of international migration, I will apply social capital instruments through an in-depth qualitative study which would shed light on how resources are activated and used by Ecuadorian immigrants. Data on documented and undocumented immigrants will be collected, fact that will enable me to do a systematic comparison between the strength and access to social capital of these two different groups, the degree on involvement in transnational activities, and the different strategies they take in order to be integrated in Switzerland. Furthermore, attention will be paid to subjective perceptions of immigrants on the meaning of integration.

Carvalho Arruda Carolina - Teenagers’ occupational choice in Switzerland

PhD Supervisor:  Dominique Joye

In my thesis, I aim to analyse the different causes of teenagers’ occupational aspirations in Switzerland. I focus on the importance of gender identities in the elaboration of individual occupational attainment. This explanatory factor will be combined with two others: social class and immigration background. My hypothesis is that pupils’ attachment to gender roles and identities modifies the influence of both social and ethnic origin. In order to test this hypothesis, I will use the results from the « PNR 60 - Professional aspirations and orientations of girls and boys towards the end of compulsory school: what determinants for more equality? » survey. This research is financed by the SNSF and carried out among a sample of young students, as well as their parents and their teachers.


Chevillard Julien - Cross-bordering socio-occupational mobility : between constructivist issues et realistic approach of their historical evolution

PdD Supervisor : Dominique Joye

From now several years, there’s a  pronounced trend in sociology that focuses the attention on international comparison and on the methodological and epistemological question that it brings up. These attempts can be seen as a process to find a commensuration of sociological concepts (here, social class) that have been defined quite differently in several national context. Our PhD. precisely aims to explore the issues that finding a commensuration to different entities or concepts generally involves. To answer these questions, we chose to study the daily mobility of French cross-border workers toward the Swiss labour market. We first proceeded with an original study aiming to test the relevance of French socio-occupational categories developed by INSEE in a context which they were not supposed to be applied (the Swiss social stratification via the Swiss labour market where the cross-border workers hold their job).

Secondly, after having checked the relevance of INSEE’s socio-occupational categories in this context, we tested the assumption that those cross-bordering mobility correspond, to some extent, to strategies, specially for young generations, to escape downward social mobility in the French labour market (Chauvel, Peugny). Comparison of status attainment between cross-border workers and French workers (who stay in the French labour market) confirmed partially our assumption (Source : French Labour Survey, INSEE). Furthermore, an original study of cohort dynamics of status attainment in Switzerland (Source : SHP-Retrospective survey) has showed that, on the contrary of the French case (Chauvel), the Swiss labour market, at least until a recent period, has still provided opportunities of upward social mobility and has not been characterised by a deep alteration of status attainment’s mechanisms for the younger cohorts.


Correa Kaback O Jean Pascal - Retirement, would you? A micro sociological approach of the end of career for older unemployed

PhD Supervisor : René Knüsel

The thesis is part of the NSF research project «End of professional career : Swiss challengers of a situation in ferment» which aims "to understand the transformations of the reorganization of retirement in Switzerland and issues associated with it". This thesis focuses specifically on the analysis of individual-society relations, with older-unemployed as an entry point. Hence a micro-sociological approach that focuses on the study of the behavior of unemployed older workers (50 and over) relative to retirement. In the Swiss context, what are the factors that interact on the "decision" of an older worker (the senior-unemployed, in this case) to leave the labor market? Given the pension-related concerns or the quality of post-working life expectations, etc., who are older-unemployed willing to retire without seeking to re-enter the labor market? Beyond representations and older Workers subjectivity, whereupon the decision to "rest" or to reposition the workforce will it be based?


Diatta Ibrahima - Missing data and imputation: avoiding pitfalls in longitudinal contexts

PhD Supervisor : André Berchtold

Quantitative data are prone to incomplete data. This phenomenon of missing data (MD) is almost impossible to avoid in many research areas such as healthcare or social sciences. When poorly managed, MD can result in misleading estimates and affect the overall validity of the study. Hence, MD presents a pervasive challenge in the design of studies, especially in longitudinal studies which are increasingly encountered in health and social scientific research.


To overcome this problem, many methods have been proposed so far, such as multiple imputation (MI) developed by Rubin (1977). MI is a powerful method that gives reliable results in a transversal framework. However, its application in the longitudinal context has been seldom discussed. Features of longitudinal data such as temporal structure of the data, correlations from one wave to another, and correlations within the same wave of data, represent a real challenge in the application of MI in a longitudinal context. In this thesis, I will address that gap by focusing on the consequences of using MI, and putting a particular attention on strategies to avoid possible pitfalls in applying MI in a longitudinal context. The main objective is to explore the influence of the imputation on the final results and to investigate the limits of MI in longitudinal data. In order to reach this objective, classic MI method, linear increments method, and linear mixed models will be used to impute MD. Comparison of these three methods will be conducted using simulated data and a real longitudinal dataset.

Ehsan Annahita - Promoting Health through Community Action in Vaud

PhD Supervisor : Dario Spini

Annahita Ehsan is a doctoral candidate in Social Sciences at the University of Lausanne, and a member of the Swiss School of Public Health. Before moving to Lausanne, she completed a B.A. in International Development Studies at McGill University, and a M.Sc. in Global Mental Health at King’s College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She also worked as a research coordinator in a Participatory Action Research and Knowledge Translation Lab at the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy at McGill University, and in the Department of Neurology at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.


Her research looks at the social determinants of health, and community interventions to promote mental health. She is collaborating with a local community-based action research intervention to understand how social capital can be developed, and how this affects the mental health of older adults. She also has a mandate from the Swiss Federal Office for Public Health, to complete a report on critical life events and health-related risk behaviours in adult populations.


Eisner Léïla - Contextual normative anchoring of attitudes towards family lives

PhD Supervisor : Dario Spini

The degree of tolerance towards different forms of family lives, such as gender roles and homosexuals couples, is in constant changes. These changes can be formal through new rights, but also informal through changes in opinions and norms. Thus, they are related to individuals’ life styles, their attitudes, but also the institutional and social contexts in which they take part. In Switzerland, same-sex couples face these changes. Indeed, same-sex marriage is not legal, whereas same-sex partnership was adopted through popular elections in 2005. Issues related to homosexual rights are becoming politically salient and Swiss citizens will probably have to vote for same-sex marriage in the near future. Within this changing context, it is important to better understand individuals’ attitudes towards different forms of family as much as their contextual anchoring. In addition to these goals, another part of my work focuses on methodological and theoretical aspects. How could a social representation approach help to better address the contextual nature of attitudes? How to measure norms? Where does the norm intervene? To answer these questions, in addition to secondary data, we conducted a study in the Canton of Vaud in order to collect attitudes and perceived norms towards different forms of family lives.

Emery Kevin - Imputation of missing data in multichannel sequences

PhD Supervisor : André Berchtold 

Sequences are often used to represent life courses.When several life domains are considered simultaneously, a set of trajectories is associated to each individual. In this case, we talk about multichannel sequences. Like any other type of quantitative data, sequences are subject to missing data.Simply deleting observations that have at least one missing data is, in most cases, unsuitable and leads to biased results. This is even more problematic with sequences.Being considered as a unit, a single missing data causes the loss of the entire sequence.However, the processing of missing data in the sequences is still deficient.

Multiple imputation is an effective method to address missing data.Several datasets are constructed where missing data are replaced by plausible values.The analysis is then carried out on each of these data sets separately and the results are finally aggregated. The main purpose of this thesis is to develop an imputation process specifically dedicated to multichannel sequences. The development of the imputation method will be based on simulated data and on real data. Simulated data provide a full control on parameters such as the number of domains involved, the strength of the link between them, the percentage of missing data or their type. However, with simulated data, the complexity of a real data set cannot be fully recovered.


Etienne Anne - The Lisbon Strategy on R&D and Innovation in Europe : Regional Dynamics, Inequalities, and Measurement.

PdD Supervisor : Jean-Philippe Leresche

The EU Lisbon Agenda (2000) purported to make Europe the most competitive knowledge-based economy by 2010. Focusing on the economic aspect of the Agenda, this thesis proposes to elucidate whether the Lisbon guidelines actually translate into better innovative performance on the one hand and to gauge whether political aspects also enter into the equation. Analyses will be conducted at the national and regional level to compare the pre-Lisbon and post-Lisbon periods and test the hypotheses controlling for economic variables enumerated in the Agenda itself. Furthermore, I will also study potential discrepancies across European countries and their regions in terms of diverging starting points which should lead to different rates of progress towards improving innovative output. Finally, the thesis also aims at pointing recurrent measurement issues in terms of the adequacy of available data on the one hand and of the comparability of the different units of analysis utilized throughout the study.

Franz Lucile - The security issue and the swiss welfare state : social security and civil security ​in tension

PhD supervisor: René Knüsel

This thesis proposes to analyze the way in which the Social State reconfigures the priorities of
its intervention in the Swiss context, particularly in the field of security. This reconfiguration
generates a growing tension between social and civil security, resulting in a change of priorities
in security policies. Security policies would then tend towards a more “repressive” and less
“social” management of social problems, affecting firstly groups of socially disaffiliated
individuals. In this perspective, it will then involve analyzing how the state builds the target
audiences for its intervention and how it modifies the life course perspectives of the people
undergoing it. This social-security tension would modify the way in which care is provided for
marginalized populations, for instance by criminalizing certain behaviors.
Vulnerated populations who would normally benefit from social measures would then become
the targets of repressive interventions. On the one hand, the shortcomings of social security
would precipitate them into new subsistence strategies and, on the other hand, the institutional
arsenal itself deployed to manage their disaffiliation would be modified.
A multi-level analysis will enable to better understand how these target audiences are
constituted at the political level and how the life course perspectives of individuals targeted by
those interventions change.


Galhano Laura - Selection criteria established by companies and self-valorisation strategies used by the unemployed

PdD Supervisors: Felix Bühlmann, Jean-François Bickel

The Swiss labour market is well known for its low unemployment rate and for its flexibility. It is less known for its high segmentation, especially by gender and nationality. These characteristics support inequalities of access to employment, more specifically for the more vulnerable segments of the population, such as young people, women, workers above the age of 50 and migrants. The aim of this project is to analyse how job position has an influence on the employee selection process (by companies) and on the way that employees and the unemployed present themselves and evaluate their jobs. This thesis is part of the research project “Overcoming vulnerability to unemployment: possibilities and limits of the so-called “active” social policies” of the NCCR-LIVES.
The empirical work focuses on the construction sector in western Switzerland. Construction companies are very structured, with high levels of ranks, and they are strongly segmented by nationality and gender. This research centres on two complementary aspects: 1) concerning the employers, the evaluation of mechanisms conducive to the selection of a candidate for a particular job position; 2) concerning the job seekers, the self-valorisation strategies that they use when applying for a job.  We are interested in their perception of the situation of unemployment: a) how is it affected by their life course/ professional history characteristics? And b) how the perception of the situation determines the self-valorisation strategies when they apply for a job? To what extent are these strategies adequate for the evaluation criteria and functioning of organisations? An understanding of these different realities can consequently engage a critical view on the adequacy of actual employment public policies. Data collection with these groups of actors is being done through face-to-face interviews with the employees, employers and the job seekers.


Girardin Nadia

PdD Supervisor : Jean-Marie Le Goff

I use for my dissertation the Becoming parent data. I’m interesting in the appearance of the gender master status (Levy et Krüger, 2000 et 2001). It’s a concept which explains the traditionalisation that couples experience during the transition to parenthood by the institutional constraints. With this aim in view, I’m at present working on the links between the intentions expressed before and after the first child birth by couples about child care tasks sharing between them and what they really do. I’m interesting too to understand which factors impact on these intentions and practices. On the long view, I’m interesting in how couples foresee the transition to parenthood in terms of work, child care (by external person or institution) and familial tasks (housework and child care) sharing and what they actually do.


Guarin Andrés - Transition in to adulthood of children immigrants in Switzerland: Analysis of familial and professional orientations of Turkish and Albanian youth.”

PdD Supervisors : Laura Bernardi, Guy Elcheroth 

Conducted as part of the project IP2 of the NPR-LIVES, this thesis focuses on the initial familial and professional orientations of children of migrants in comparison to young Swiss from families with similar socio-economic backgrounds. We are particularly interested in the resource mobilization process that Turkish and Albanian youth experience during the transition to adulthood in these tow orientations. The primary concern of this research is to identify the mechanisms by which young adults’ social networks influence the direction of their paths in life.

In order to do that, first, we use data taken from the (ESPA) in order to identify the familial and professional trajectories of youth. Second, we take advantage of the pilot survey of the latest wave of PSM (III), which uses network sampling, and allows us to examine the links between networks and youth familial and professional life trajectories of migrants.



Leko Minja - Scar without a wound? War trauma transmission from the first to the second generation of Bosnians living in Switzerland.

PdD Supervisor : Guy Elcheroth

Inspired by Albeck's expression “the scar without the wound”, the objective of my doctoral thesis is to delineate how parents’ traumatic war experiences may affect their offspring’s mental health. I intend to explore the mechanisms of potential cross-generational transmission of war trauma from the first to the second generation of Bosnians living in Switzerland. Being interested in how the parents’ trauma is seen, understood and experienced by their children, I will offer deeper understanding of the process of transmission by looking at four embedded levels: parents’ coping and capabilities, parent-child communication, family cohesion, and the broader socio-cultural context. Particular focus will be placed on trans-national diasporic culture. Furthermore, I will observe the establishment of certain behavioral patterns within and beyond the family circle, such as commemorative practices and posttraumatic growth.

Lindholm Annika - Subjective well-being and the politically active citizen: a multidimensional approach to explaining political participation

PhD Supervisor : Georg Lutz

Well-being is widely recognized as an indicator of the quality of the society we live in, and has been used to explain various forms of social behaviour, among which political behaviour. The influence of well-being on political participation stems from the recognition that participation requires a considerable amount of resources, which are unevenly distributed among individuals and socio-economic groups. The effect of well-being on political activity has, however, predominantly been studied through its objective indicators, such as the level of income, educational attainment and socio-economic status. Subjective well-being – the individual’s cognitive and affective evaluation of their quality of life – has so far been underexplored as a comparable resource for political participation.

My thesis aims to elucidate the influence of subjective well-being on political participation by examining participation through three key aspects of subjective well-being: evaluative, emotional and eudaimonic well-being; subjective economic (in)security; and social well-being. By using cross-sectional survey data and taking a comparative approach, I propose to examine the following: how does subjective well-being affect political participation? Can we establish patterns of participation across levels of subjective well-being? Is there cross-country variation in the relationship between subjective well-being and participation? I argue that subjective well-being has the potential to further clarify the process that makes citizens participate in politics, and should therefore be given a more prominent role in future research on well-being and political participation.


McDonald Patrick - Family decisions and employment: The impact of marriage and children on labour market participation

PhD Supervisor : Daniel Oesch

The unequal position of men and women on the labour market is a large contributor to economic, social, and intergenerational inequality. Although the position of women on the labour market has been improving in the last decades, they are still at a disadvantage when compared to men. The situation is especially compounded for mothers, where a significant motherhood wage penalty persists. Though much of this gap can be attributed to part-time work and career interruption, a large proportion remains unexplained. This unexplained difference could be due to employers’ discrimination. My thesis studies the decision-making behaviour of employers regarding an applicant’s family situation. Are men more likely to be hired than women, especially mothers? Are mothers offered lower wages, while fathers command higher? Does workforce inequality therefore have its origins at recruitment? To answer these questions, I propose to use Factorial Survey Analysis (FSA), an analytical technique that asks respondents to rate tailor-made profiles, or vignettes, that facilitate the statistical analysis of the dimensions of interest. I base my empirical research on the JOBVUL project, a Factorial Survey targeting the 5000 members of a human resources professional organisation in Switzerland.


Moawad Jad - How did the financial crisis affect inter- and intra-generational mobility in the developed countries?

PhD Supervisor : Leen Vandecasteele


The Great Recession (GR), the severest economic shock since the Great Depression, is a crucial period that has become embedded in our memories due to its negative consequences on the developed countries. The literature on how the GR has affected trends in poverty, employment, drop-out universities and early retirement has been growing. My study aims at expanding this literature and answers questions such as: To what extent was inter- and intra-generational mobility affected by the crisis? And what was the role of welfare state in mediating the relationship between inter- and intra-generational mobility and the GR?


During the last decades, the European Union population has been growing and the regulations between the countries became more sophisticated. Hence, studying differences in trends across European countries is becoming increasingly valuable. To this end, I will conduct my research using the Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) data which consists of 32 European countries. Moreover, I will be using quantitative methods such as multilevel and longitudinal to conduct my research.

Morel Sandrine - Divorce and separation, still critical events ? A study of married and non-married parents’ trajectories before and after their union dissolution

PhD Supervisor : Felix Bühlmann

In my thesis dissertation, I am investigating union dissolution among both married and unmarried parents. The increase in divorce in Western countries is part of a larger trend that has been affecting the family as an institution since the 1960s: while traditional families are becoming increasingly fragile, other forms of family are emerging, such as unmarried couples with children. Divorce is often mentioned as an example of an event that challenges the life course (which is supposed to follow a set of social rules and expectations) as well as the identity, social roles, and status of those who have experienced it. However, as union dissolutions have become increasingly frequent and concern more various family structures, I hope to understand whether divorce and separation can still be considered as critical life events, and if so, in which contexts. To answer these questions, I will use a mixed-methods design (methods and data) with four approaches that are embedded in a life course perspective: 1) a focus on the interdependence of family-work trajectories before and after the event, 2) an emphasis on the effects of time (sequence and duration) on the event/ transition in question, 3) an examination of the influence of the relevant institutional and social contexts, and 4) methodological innovations to answer such questions.

Ndour Aurore - What do parents do for their children? Aspirations, resourcesand strategies of immigrants’ parental investment in Switzerland

PhD Supervisor : Laura Bernardi

Immigrants are often seen as a disfavoured part of the population. Nonetheless, literature shows that some immigrant groups have better educational outcomes than their native counterparts at equal socio-economic status. It is supposed that parental investment might act as a mediator of the effect of social background, diminishing the negative impact of a lower SES. Indeed, a greater parental investment through higher aspirations and a stronger emphasis on education as well as high cultural capital activities has proven to be part of the explanation. However, according to the existing literature, great disparities within the immigrant population can be observed. Actually, some immigrant groups seem to continuously suffer lower outcomes than natives. Thus, it is not clear why and how certain parents manage to transform their aspirations for their children into higher outcomes while others do not succeed. We build a three-dimension concept of parental investment including aspirations, resources and strategies in order to understand what immigrant parents do to support their children’s education and why.

With an auto-administrated questionnaire distributed to parents of 9 to 16 years old children, we will examine differences between Swiss natives and different immigrant groups in terms of aspirations and strategies. We assume that a lack of resources might prevent some immigrant parents to provide the strategies that are needed to meet their aspirations. We will conduct semi-directed interviews with a sample of individuals from the aforementioned quantitative study that reflects classical situations as well as atypical type of parental investment in different immigrant groups. This will allow us to understand the articulation of the three dimensions of the parental investment concept.


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