Thesis completed

Aeby Gaëlle

Réseaux personnels en Suisse, trajectoires familiales et valeurs 

Sous la direction de Jacques-Antoine Gauthier et Eric Widmer

Les proches, membres de la famille ou amis, sont des ressources relationnelles indispensables pour les individus. La question « Qui sont les personnes importantes dans votre vie actuellement ? » permet d'appréhender la situation relationnelle des individus à un moment donné. Dans ma thèse, je chercherai donc d'abord à comprendre les configurations et les dynamiques des réseaux personnels. Ensuite, dans la perspective du parcours de vie, je mettrai ces réseaux en lien avec la trajectoire familiale des individus. Je me demanderai par exemple si les trajectoires marquées par des discontinuités, tel qu'un divorce, sont davantage associées à des réseaux personnels plus déconnectés. Enfin, je relierai réseaux personnels et trajectoires de vie à un certain nombre de valeurs. Cette thèse utilise les résultats de l'étude FNS « Family TiMes » (fond no 100017_130343 / 1). Huit cents personnes, représentatives des trois principales régions linguistiques de Suisse et appartenant à deux cohortes de naissance distinctes, 1950-55 et 1970-75, ont été interviewées en 2011.

Antonini Matteo - Coping with unemployment: strategies and resources

PdD Supervisor : Laura Bernardi

This project investigates the socio-psychological strategies used to face a situation of vulnerability due to a period of unemployment. This topic is split in three main questions:

1. Do the work trajectories follow typical paths when characterized by a period of unemployment?
2. Which strategies do the actors use to organize their resources and cope with this period of vulnerability?
3. Do these strategies change in time and space?

The analysis is based on individual employment trajectories codified from the longitudinal information collected in the Swiss Household Panel. The sequences are aligned on the first month of unemployment; recurrent paths are described and related to a wide set of resources including economic, demographic, relational, psychological and emotional factors. Time influence is considered distinguishing the trajectories occurred in the pre-2008 European economic crisis and the trajectories occurred in the successive period. Geographical variations are considered comparing the sequences from five Swiss macro-regions defined according to the differences in local policies against unemployment. Methodologically, I apply a life course perspective and a multidimensional approach using sequence analysis and statistical modelling. The central methodological issue is to go beyond descriptions of static variable associations to a description of relationships between processes.

Baumann Isabel - Workers' occupational trajectory after plant closure

PdD Supervisor : Daniel Oesch

This study examines the impact of job displacement on the occupational trajectory of affected employees’ about eighteen moths after job loss. It analyses the reintegration process of workers displaced by recent plant closures in Switzerland’s manufacturing sector.

The main research questions are:
- Do the workers experience loss of earnings?
- In what job (occupation and sector) are they re-employed?
- What resources, constraints and strategies determine the characteristics of workers’ positions after reintegration, in terms of their wages, occupation and satisfaction with work and income?

Our study is based on micro-surveys of approximately one thousand employees of five large industrial firms in Switzerland that shut down in 2009 and 2010. The surveys cover all employees who worked in these plants, including those who secured a new job directly after the announcement of closure. The results will be compared to a reference group created on the basis of the Swiss Labour Force Survey (SAKE) and administrative data.

Dasoki Nora - Differences in well-being in the ageing process: analysis of retrospective perceptions of events and their relation to the stress process

PdD Supervidor : Dario Spini

The aim of this project is to understand differences in perceptions of well-being among the elderly by explaining them through the stress process and the life course. The events experienced and accumulated throughout a life mean that by the time people reach a certain age, they have unequal social and individual resources (Dannefer, on 2003). I concentrate on the relation between resources, well-being and the perception of past events. The aim is to understand differences in perceptions of well-being among the elderly by investigating the way they judge, retrospectively, the events which have marked their lives, taking into account the role of resources stemming from their different routes through life. It is thus a question of understanding how the current evaluation of certain events lived in past can influence how those events relate to well-being.


Falcon Julie - Social mobility trends and mechanisms in Switzerland: An integrated analysis using classical mainstream approaches and the life course paradigm

PhD Supervisor : Dominique Joye

Numerous studies have looked at intergenerational social mobility trends and their underlying mechanisms in industrialised countries. However, to date little research has been carried out on this issue in Switzerland. Furthermore, by incorporating a life course perspective into classical mainstream approaches, my thesis aims to expand our understanding of social mobility processes. I employ a wide range of methods (e.g. log-linear models, event history analysis and multilevel models) to conduct a quantitative analysis based on more than 12 existing datasets, including the Swiss Household Panel. One part examines trends in intergenerational social mobility over time in Switzerland. In a second part, I analyse the driving mechanisms of social mobility over the life course and across time and place, with a specific focus on gender differences and the impact of occupational sex-segregation.

Stéphanie Glaeser - Vulnerabilities, identities, communities – a contextual analysis of climates of exclusion and solidarity in Switzerland

PhD Supervisor : Dominique Joye

The aim of this project is to study community climates in Switzerland by combining multilevel analyses and spatial approaches. The purpose is to analyse the role contextual factors play in the construction of local realities of exclusion or solidarity, in particular when the population is confronted with problematized minorities like asylum seekers: Which collective identities are relevant in contemporary Switzerland and how are they mobilized by political discourses that provide interpretative frameworks of collective vulnerabilities? To what extent does exposure to these discourses shape attitudes and behaviour towards minorities? How is the reception of these discourses influenced by prevailing climates of social trust and cohesion, and how are these climates in turn shaped by social inequalities? To study these questions, contextual indicators based on secondary sources will be linked to data from an original postal survey and to a more qualitative analysis of the observed dynamics in selected areas.

Guidici Francesco - Becoming parent: inter-individual divergences and convergences in a transition of the life course

PhD Supervisors: Dominique Joye & Eric Widmer

The birth of the first child is a normative event creating important changes in the life course of men and women. This research analyzes the transition to parenthood as a moment creating social stratification. Changes within three dependent dimensions are studied: the occupational career, domestic labour and couples’ relationship quality. The concepts of inter-individual divergences and convergence, derived from the cumulative dis/advantage hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis of compensatory effects, are used to operationalize the change in these three dimensions after the birth of the first child.

Klaas Hannah - Recovery processes after an episode of mental illness

PhD Supervisor : Dario Spini


My thesis is situated within the field of mental health research. I investigate recovery processes after the onset of an episode of mental illness. I am interested in variables that impact recovery positively in the short term and in the long term. Regarding the personal level, I am analysing identity processes and control strategies underlying recuperation at different time points. I am further interested in the associations of these variables with depressive symptoms. Concerning the contextual level, I am looking at regional variations in Switzerland regarding indicators for varying degrees of stigmatisation of people suffering from a mental illness. For my analyses I use different longitudinal prospective databases such as the “Swiss Household Panel” (SHP) and the “Traitement et Intervention Précoces dans les troubles Psychotiques” (TIPP), as well as own collected retrospective mixed-methods data.

Korber Maïlys - What are the long-term benefits of vocational training?

PdD Supervisor : Daniel Oesch

The Swiss education system emphasizes the dual vocational training. Many consider it as efficient, in particular with respect to the integration of the young workforce. If entry into the labor market is indeed facilitated by the vocational education training, it is crucial to explore its long-term benefits. In a world subject to technological change as ours, does acquiring specific professional skills enable workers to meet the needs of the labor market and to take advantage of the education throughout one’s career?

To answer this question, I analyze longitudinal data to observe individuals’ careers throughout their professional trajectories. I compare the higher secondary vocational education training with general education to shed light on the different career paths made possible by these two kinds of education. One hypothesis is that skills acquired during general education training are more easily transferable and less quickly obsolete.

I compare Switzerland with Germany – a country with an education system similar to Switzerland – and with the United Kingdom – a country with an education system that emphasizes vocational education training to a much lower extent than Switzerland – to observe if similar effects occur in these three contexts.  

Madero Cabib Ignacio - Structural Determinants of the Transition to Retirement in Switzerland: a Life Course Study

PhD Supervisors : Jacques-Antoine Gauthier & Jean-Marie Le Goff

A substantial body of life course research has considered occupational trajectories in Switzerland, focusing either on early or middle adulthood careers. However, the issue of the transition to retirement is receiving increasing attention for several reasons: the emergence of declining birth rates associated with an aging population, a high proportion of active old workers, and continuous changes in the timing and variability of retirements in Switzerland. Moving forward on this topic, the present sociological thesis aims to offer new insights on the dynamics of the transition to retirement in Switzerland (centered on ages between 50 and 70 years), through a life course schema. I concentrate on three life course notions in order to study the transition to retirement: the homogenization, the heterogeneity, and the social vulnerability confronted during such life transition. I use data mainly from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). The data will be investigated through the two most important tools of quantitative analysis within life course approach, namely optimal matching analysis and event history analysis.

Meigniez Maëlle - Institutional aid forms: plural action of an association

PhD Supervisor : René Knüsel

My PHD dissertation aims at exploring and understanding the public action of aid associations. I would like to think about forms of institutional aid, focusing on different kinds of allowances and publics. In other words, I am interested in the way actors answer to the questions : Whom to help ? Who must help and how ? What is the place of institution in this system ? Thereby, the political dimension is in the heart of my questioning, which is about the responsibility (individual and collective) attributed to helped people, to helpers and to institution. My approach is an ethnographic inquiry in an association of the Canton de Vaud and aims at describing and explaining interactions (in co-presence and at a distance) and actors experiences. My research is an opportunity to rethink two tensions which are transversal in social policies. On the one hand, I want to combine an analysis of proximity aid relations with an analysis of the public action of an institution. Indeed, I propose to move across the institution, from the bottom (the interactions with helped people) to the top (highly visible activities). On the other hand, I aim at overcoming the opposition between public aid and private aid by analyzing an association who works with public and private actors and participate to the constitution of public problems.

Murphy Emily - Labour Market Turbulence, Occupational Mobility and Workers’ Skill Development over the Life course

PdD Supervisor : Daniel Oesch

This thesis is set within IP4 of PRN-LIVES, and examines the relationship between micro-level occupational mobility, educational paths and aggregate patterns of change in the labour market of OECD economies over the last two decades.  Our empirical analyses determine the extent to which intra-generational mobility and skill acquisition dynamics have contributed to these observed changes. Drawing on panel data from three countries: Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, we distinguish between workers in declining, stable and growing occupations with the aim of understanding how individuals in declining occupations fare in each of the labour markets.  Does being in a declining occupation necessarily place workers in a vulnerable position or are they able to access jobs in growing occupations? The study identifies the skills and individual characteristics that enable workers’ smooth transitions out of declining occupations towards new jobs within expanding employment sectors. A further line of inquiry looks at whether national training systems adapt to altered employment opportunities and foster individuals’ formation of new types of skills that successful switches to growing occupations require or that promote upward mobility paths.

Penic Sandra - Individual and collective experiences in shaping political attitudes of young adults in former Yugoslavia

PhD supervisor : Dario Spini

The main goal of this research is to examine the impact of individual and collective experiences of war victimization and economic exclusion on political attitudes and social identities of young adults in post-war former Yugoslavia. We apply a mixed-method research design, by combining series of quantitative (most notably spatial multilevel analyses) and qualitative analyses (discourse analyses of elites’ speeches and media content). This approach allows us to detangle the impact of personal victimization and collective exposure to war events and poverty, but also to examine how certain interpretations of these events become collectively shared, and how these shared interpretations of social experiences are then shaping individual opinions. In that way, by combining several levels of analyses – individual experiences, collective events and their interpretations within influential public discourse – we aim to get a more complete understanding of dramatic changes in attitudes and identities of people in post-war countries of former Yugoslavia.

Roch Pierre-Alain - Precarious occupational integration and social disaffiliation process: The cases of Switzerland and Portugal

PhD Supervisors: Dominique Joye, Karin Wall

Labor relations have undergone significant changes over the last decades. Job precariousness and work precariousness weaken “assured” and “stable” occupational integrations. These changes challenge “rigid”, continuous and foreseeable conception of occupational career (the choice of a profession, training, labor market integration, promotion and retirement), and question both material and symbolic recognition that are linked to professional activities. Facing this “rise of uncertainties”, we analyse the impact of precarious occupational integration on social ties, and how particular groups of people are unequally exposed to the “disaffiliation” risk. In order to answer these questions, we draws on data from the FNS study « Family TiMes » and data from a same design research conducted in Portugal. Moreover, analysing occupational integration and social ties of two cohorts (1950-1955, 1970-1975) in two different countries allow us to develop a framework taking into account the specific context studied.

Rossignon Florence - Transition to adulthood among the second-generation of immigrants in Switzerland

PdD Supervisors : Jean-Marie Le Goff, Jacques-Antoine Gauthier

My thesis aims at studying the integration into the labour market of the second-generation of immigrants living in Switzerland. A great number of studies have demonstrated that the level of education and the occupational status of migrants seem to improve from generation to generation. Notwithstanding, it is of common knowledge that the young from the most recent waves of migration are often disadvantaged compared to those who are originating from the older ones. Indeed, from the 1980s, many migrants coming from Turkey and former Yugoslavia arrived in Switzerland with a precarious status. This latter, which impeded their professional integration, seems to have been transmitted to their children. Our empirical research will be based on the study Cohort LIVES. Its sample will be composed of 1800 people, Swiss and foreigners, aged 15-24 and who have been schooled in Switzerland. Also, we will resort to two methods of analysis. On the one hand, the sequential analysis will allow us to show how the educational and occupational trajectories of individuals may differ according to various sociodemographic factors, such as ethnicity, gender etc. In the second place, the event history analysis, which measures the probability that an event occurs after a certain period of time, will show in which ways structural patterns can influence the occurrence of critical events, such as leaving from the parental home. 

Sanchez Tome Rosa - The Impact of survey error on the study of vulnerability

PdD Supervisor : Dominique Joye

The past decades have seen a growing interest in subjective measures of vulnerability and wellbeing, corresponding with an increase in the quantity, quality and availability of life quality data. However, traditional survey modes of data collection such as telephone surveys fail to obtain satisfactory data in terms of quality and cost. In Switzerland, new survey designs are used in order to overcome low response rates, nonresponse bias due to the underrepresentation of potentially vulnerable groups and measurement problems. My objective is to study the effect that survey design has on the accuracy of the information obtained through surveys on vulnerability and wellbeing. Specifically, I focus on the mode of data collection, a crucial element of survey design that is known to affect both response propensity and respondents’ answers, making it difficult to compare estimates that have been obtained through different modes. My analysis is based in on a mixed mode experiment and complemented with other datasets that are related to vulnerability and/or wellbeing measurement, such as the European Social Survey.

Valarino Isabel - Does the emergence of parental leave policies in Switzerland challenge gendered representations of parental roles?

PhD Supervisor : Laura Bernardi

Abstract : Switzerland is one of the only European countries which has not implemented parental leave policies (parental or paternity leave). However, it seems that in the last decade, the issue has been increasingly problematized in the public space. This thesis has two objectives. First, describe the emergence of parental leave policies in Switzerland in the last decade. Second, analyse the representations of gender relations, in particular of maternity and paternity through this emergence. Does the increased problematization of parental leave policies in Switzerland challenge gendered representations of parental roles? In order to answer this question, I analyse the media, political and economy spheres. Firstly, press articles on parental leave policies are analysed. Secondly, parliamentary propositions in favour of parental leave policies and their political treatment are investigated. Finally, practices and discourses with regard to discretionary parental leave policies implemented at the level of companies are analysed.  The data is analysed following principles of discourse analysis.

Von Ow Anna - The role of social contacts in finding a way out of unemployment

PhD Supervisor : Daniel Oesch

This PhD thesis is part of a research project, which explores the role of networks as a job search strategy for the unemployed. Thirty to seventy percent of jobs are found by means of social contacts, which clearly highlights their importance as a job search strategy. Furthermore, potential employers might interpret unemployment duration as a negative signal for productivity and effort in looking for a job. Therefore, it is crucial, especially for the unemployed, to be as well informed as possible about different search strategies and their effectiveness.

Our study is based on a large-scale survey carried out among 4'500 unemployed job seekers in the canton of Vaud. The survey data have been collected using two questionnaires – one at the beginning and one at the end of unemployment. These data are also combined with administrative data stemming from the unemployment insurance register.

Using this comprehensive data set, we investigate the interplay between job seekers' and social contacts' characteristics and its effect on the likelihood of finding a job, on how long this takes and on the type of job. We also explore whether job seekers succeed in mobilizing their social contacts in order to get help finding a job. This allows us to contribute new empirical findings to the literature on the procedural character of job search by means of social contacts, which so far has mainly been investigated theoretically.


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