Alkoç Nursel - Contextualized intersecting inequalities in political participation in Western Europe

PhD Supervisor : Georg Lutz

Participation research has hitherto taken age, gender, socio-economic status, and ethnicity-related individual inequalities in political participation as independent universal categories and hence overlooked their simultaneous and interactive effects. Nor has it much considered the impact of the context in which individual inequalities are embedded. By exploiting the paradigm of intersectionality, we intent to examine in this thesis contextualized intersecting inequalities in political participation in the Western European context. To that end, we utilize a rich quantitative data set that combines all the waves of the European Social Survey (ESS) and apply a new methodological strategy. We make use of intercategorical approach of the paradigm of intersectionality and attempt to develop a multiple correspondence analysis of multilevel data as a means of relating individual inequalities to contextual factors and capturing contextualized unequal relations in political participation. We argue that individual inequalities in political participation are not mutually exclusive, but intersect with one another and coincide with the context in which they are embedded. We expect this thesis to contribute to the advancement of quantitative intersectionality research and to future policymaking on equality and non-discrimination in Western Europe in order to reduce inequalities and encourage the political participation of hard-to-reach individuals.

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.   


Behr Johanna - Career Trajectories and Professional Socialization of Aspiring Elites in the Swiss Field of Finance

PhD Supervisor : Felix Bühlmann 

My PhD project aims to explore the career trajectories and the professional socialization of aspiring elites in the Swiss field of finance since the 2010s, focusing on graduates from finance master programs: How do young professionals enter the field of finance? How do they learn the rules of the game and how do they biographically construct their adherence to the norms and values of finance (what Bourdieu calls the illusio)? How do their experiences differ regarding their respective social origins and the resulting dispositions? What insights do their experiences provide about the structures and transformations of the field? This research adopts a multidisciplinary approach, integrating methodologies and concepts from educational studies, social mobility research and elite sociology.

The study centres around a case study of a cohort of 20 graduates from two Swiss universities, one in the French-speaking and one in the German-speaking region, who will be systematically accompanied and interviewed from their graduation through the initial years of their professional careers.


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. 



Bornet Guillaume - Orientation politique et orientation professionnelle ; boussoles désalignées ? – Political and occupational orientation; misaligned compasses? – Studying the evolution of links between occupational group and political attitudes

PhD supervisor : Daniel Oesch 

This thesis project focuses broadly, first, on the influence of occupational group on economic (liberalism vs. redistribution) and cultural (progressive vs. traditional values) attitudes. Occupational groups are positioned quite distinctly from one another on these two axes. Using data from the European Social Survey (ESS), the project centres on how the occupational groups’ positions on these two attitudinal axes evolve over time. Data from the World Values Survey (WVS) will also be used to support a broader perspective, beyond the ESS’ European focus.

A second part of the thesis project deals with the effects of intragenerational occupational mobility on peoples’ position on these two main axes of political attitudes. This part of the project focuses on how occupational mobility affects political attitudes across time (instead of using a binary, before-after comparison). Potential anticipation effects in the time-period leading up to the change, as well as progressive post-change effects, can therefore be studied. Data will be pooled from panels (SHP, BHPS/Usoc, …) to allow for this. Difference-in-difference models, with asymmetric fixed-effects, will be used.


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.

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.


Lachkovska Vasilena - Origin-Based Discrimination: Tracing Transferable Attitudes and Prejudices across Life Domains and Generations

PhD Supervisor : Stephanie Steinmetz 

The research project "Origin-Based Discrimination: Tracing Transferable Attitudes and Prejudices across Life Domains and Generations" investigates how discrimination based on perceived origins manifests in critical life areas, including employment, childcare, and housing, and whether these biases are passed down through generations. It delves into the relationship between origin-based discrimination and societal structures, analyzing how in-group and out-group perceptions form social hierarchies. By studying the evolution of discriminatory attitudes over time, the project assesses the potential heritability of biases, exploring if parents' origin-based prejudices are transmitted to their offspring, possibly leading to active discrimination. This project is crucial for understanding why and how discrimination infiltrates various life domains and for guiding efforts to eradicate discriminatory practices, aiming to aid policymakers, educators, and advocates in creating a more inclusive society. The ultimate goal is to provide insights that will help in the development of strategies to dismantle systemic discrimination and promote inclusivity.


Martinez Torres Andrès - Measuring Polarization and Radicalization using the People-Opinion Networks Model

PhD Supervisor : Caroline Roberts 

Done within the frame of SNSF funded project "People-Opinion Networks: A study of polarization in word embeddings and social networks in Switzerland and Southern Africa", this thesis will study polarization and radicalization using the People-Opinion Networks model. This model uses machine learning and social network analysis, integrating relational networks and the linguistic features of actors to better understand how group polarization occurs. It will do so in three case studies. The first is the The Red Pill, an online space where men come together to discuss men issues that attracted attention by becoming a misogynistic forum. This first case will be a longitudinal study of the group dynamics of the forum while a second study will look at the most radicalized individuals of this group and their radicalization across time. The third study will be the Spanish Civil War. This project will focus on the groups that made up the Left in the conflict that, while having a common enemy, were ideologically divided. This historical case study will have more data limitations, providing an opportunity to investigate how to better integrate historical data into new methodologies and give a new perspective to this significant period in Spanish history.


Kalt Moles Benjamin - Lone parenthood back and forth. A multidomain and multidirectional life-course analysis

PhD Supervisor : Laura Bernardi

His main research interests are the sociology of the family, life course, longitudinal analysis and qualitative methods. His thesis studies families' life course and living conditions in French-speaking Switzerland with a lone parent experience. Based on the research project sample "The multiple paths of lone parenthood" (2012-2022), his thesis focuses on their adaptations to different life domains, the adoption of new roles and their family reconfigurations with a longitudinal and qualitative perspective.


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.

Petrini Sonia - Essays on equality of opportunity

PhD supervisor : Michael Grätz

Equality of opportunity is widely acknowledged as a fundamental principle of justice. However, its exact definition remains a subject of debate, and current methods of measuring it are found lacking. This thesis aims to address these concerns by introducing both theoretical and methodological innovations. First, it distinguishes between a 'liberal' and a 'radical' definition of equality of opportunity. The former recognises as fair the inequalities arising from different natural talents, while the latter includes genetic endowments, such as social origin, gender, or ethnicity, in the category of morally arbitrary factors that should not form the basis for justifiable inequality under either definition. Second, it takes into account two levels at which inequalities arise, namely between families, and within them. In fact, our approach complements the traditional sibling similarity measure, quantifying the first dimension, with individual level factors explaining inequalities within families. For both aspects, some critical elements are taken into account. From a theoretical perspective, the assumption that effort constitutes a just base for inequalities because individuals have control over it is challenged. Concerning methodology, the estimation of liberal inequality of opportunity is refined by accounting for polygenic scores as a measure of the equitable transmission of genetic endowments from parents to offsprings.


Semaani Claire - The Interrelationships Between Maternal, Paternal and Child's Mental Health Over Time

PhD supervisor : Laura Bernardi

Mental health problems are identified as being part of the leading health-related problems among young individuals. In fact, the wellbeing of young people does not improve and seems to even decline across the years. To address this problem, it is crucial not to overlook the influence of family interrelationships. Parents indeed play an important role in children’s wellbeing and the influence also goes in the other direction. However, literature about the interrelationships between parents’ and child’s mental health is scarce and mostly focuses on mothers and their children. Moreover, most studies are based on cross-sectional data that do not allow to measure mental health interrelationships accurately and assess their directionality, and none used Swiss longitudinal data yet. Gaining a better understanding of the interrelations between parents’ and children’s mental health would be beneficial for policy development, prevention and to better treat mental health problems themselves.  

Following a life course perspective, the goal of this thesis is to contribute to research on parents' and children’s wellbeing by assessing their interrelationships in mental health and their directionality. Secondly, differences across subgroups will be examined (gender, place of origin and socio-economic conditions) and across family structures (children living with two parents, single parents and stepparents). Finally, the role of welfare policies on family mental health will be investigated.  


Schmutz Rita - Starting early: The effects of Swiss compulsory school reform

PhD Supervisor : Leen Vandecasteele

Mounting evidence across disciplines suggests that early childhood environments have a lasting impact on later life outcomes. Among others, early childhood education (ECE) programs have been regarded as a human capital investment policy that improves not only children’s outcomes but also promotes the reconciliation of work and family life for parents, particularly for mothers. My thesis will analyze the impacts of mandatory pre-primary education in Switzerland, a change in compulsory school established by the Intercantonal Agreement on Harmonisation of Compulsory Education (HarmoS Agreement). The first part of the analysis concentrates on the impact of pre-primary education on children’s academic outcomes and intergenerational educational and social mobility. The goal is to investigate universal ECE as a policy strategy for reducing social inequalities and equalizing educational opportunities. The second part is focused on the effect of preschool attendance on maternal labor outcomes. Thus, it is centered on measuring the impact of preschool attendance on maternal employment and gender inequalities in the labor market. My thesis aims to contribute to the discussion of early childho

Spasic Magdalena - Physical custody arrangements and child well-being in Switzerland

PhD Supervisor : Laura Bernardi

This purpose of this thesis is to investigate the link between custody arrangements and child’s well-being and particularly to gain a comprehensive understanding of the factors that impact child well-being after parental separation or divorce with an approach grounded in the life course theory. Firstly, the aim is to characterize along the socio-structural dimension the physical custody arrangements in terms of distribution and characteristics of families after parental separation or divorce in Switzerland. We will particularly try here to understand the distinctive role of social selectivity into different custody arrangements. Then, the second goal is to look at how those custody arrangements change or stay stable and why it does so by identifying under which socio-structural conditions custody arrangements change in terms of duration, stability, and trajectory. In the second part of this thesis, the aim is to investigate the impact of the grand-parental separation or divorce on the current situation, namely on the current parental separation or divorce, custody arrangement and child well-being. Finally, the last chapter will assess whether child well-being varies as a function of post-separation physical custody arrangements and, if so, to determine how and also what explains such variation using intact families as a comparison group.


Vigna Nathalie - Working class decline and the rise of right-wing populism: the role of subjective social status

PhD Supervisor : Daniel Oesch

Right-wing populist parties are experiencing great success in the Western World and research on this topic is growing rapidly. This thesis contributes to it by examining one of the most innovative hypothesis in the field, which claims that these parties’ success is due to the economic and cultural decline of the working class’s position in society. The objective is to analyse the micro-sociological foundation of this explanation, assessing the status loss of the working class in the last three decades.

Our focus is on two elements: the workers’ subjective social status and their perception of inequalities. We study the historical trajectories of these two subjective variables, using data from the International Social Survey Program 1987-2019. By comparing several countries over 30 years, we exploit both the geographical and temporal dimensions of this data source.

Some of my main research questions are: has the working class’s subjective social status decreased compared to the status of other classes? If so, when and in which countries? Are there geographical differences within the same country, notably between large cities and the countryside, central capital regions and the periphery? And do workers see the society as less equal compared to the other classes? Has their perception of social equality worsened across time? If so, where?