The Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES – Overcoming vulnerability: Life course perspectives (NCCR LIVES) began operations in January 2011. It studies the effects of the post-industrial economy and society on the development of situations of vulnerability using a longitudinal and comparative approach. The NCCR LIVES aims to better understand the phenomenon of vulnerability as well as the means to overcome it so as to contribute to the emergence of innovative social policy measures.
The NCCR LIVES is financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) for a period of 12 years. In order to ensure the sustainability of the NCCR LIVES' research activities and projects, the LIVES Centre has been launched.
Vulnerability vs resources
How do people deal with a changing world? Synonymous as it may be with lengthening of the life span and increase in material comfort, the development of post-industrial society is also a source of new hazards restricting the self-fulfilment of many people. Confronted with change in family, religious identities, made insecure by the major shifts of economic activity in a globalised world, there are many who feel or who actually find themselves in a situation of vulnerability. In the course of their lives many people are exposed to crisis situations, either because they lack key resources or because their living conditions deteriorate drastically. These processes cause human suffering and social exclusion, and they come with considerable financial costs.
As a result, investigating the mechanisms which allow some individuals to adapt better than others to the development of society is becoming a priority for better understanding the phenomenon of vulnerability and the means of overcoming it.
Up till now, studies have been focused on short-term observation, either of particular aspects of living (work, family, health) or of particular phases in the life span (youth, old age). The fourteen research projects of the NCCR LIVES are characterized by an innovative, interdisciplinary and comprehensive approach which involves studying and analysing the complete life course of an individual and understanding individual situations in their social and institutional context. The life trajectories of some 25,000 people are studied under several aspects (health, family, work and institutions).
The NCCR LIVES involves close cooperation among researchers in the disciplines of psychology, sociology, social psychology, socioeconomics, economics and demography who are attached to the universities of Lausanne, Geneva, Berne, Fribourg, Zurich, and the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland. The NCCR LIVES is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and hosted jointly by the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva.
Here are the seven interdisciplinary research projects from the current phase of the NCCR LIVES:
- IP1. Meso-level and policy mechanisms of vulnerability (meso-level)
Co-directed by Leen Vandecasteele, Jean-Michel Bonvin
- IP2. Health in vulnerable groups: Patterns of resources (health)
Co-directed Caudine Burton-Jeangros, Daniela Jopp
- IP3. Life-course mechanisms of vulnerability in old age: The role of multidomain reserves (ageing)
Co-directed by Matthias Kliegel, Jürgen Maurer
- IP4. Vulnerability through lack of employment: Firms, inequality, and job loss (employability)
Co-directed by Daniel Oesch, Michele Pellizzari
- IP5. Family ties and vulnerability processes: Network-wide properties, agency and life-course relational reserves (family)
Co-directed by Clémentine Rossier, Laura Bernardi
- IP6. Gender, mobility and vulnerabilities (gender and mobility)
Co-directed by Nicky Le Feuvre, Eric Davoine
- IP7. Resource dynamics to overcoming career and work-related vulnerabilities (career paths)
Co-directed by Jérôme Rossier, Alexandra Freund
In addition to the research projects, four cross-cutting issues (CCI) characterize the research agenda of the NCCR LIVES. These CCI are the result of the combination of seven research projects (IP) which bring together about 200 researchers from all around Switzerland who conduct interdisciplinary research by mobilizing knowledge from various disciplines (sociology, psychology, demography, economics, social policy) and by developing innovative longitudinal methodologies.
The purpose of these cross-cutting issues (CCI) is to further develop and refine the research agenda of NCCR LIVES in order to stimulate theoretical, methodological and empirical advances in the domains of vulnerability and life-course research. Three of these issues aim at understanding the multidimensional (CCI-1), multilevel (CCI-2) and multidirectional (CCI-3) dimensions of vulnerability. The fourth one (CCI-4) focuses on developing innovative methodological techniques in order to better grasp the nuts and bolts of vulnerability from a life-course perspective.
CCI 1 - Stress and resource dynamics in social interactions and across life domains (multidimensional)
This cross-cutting issue aims to stimulate research focusing on the permeability of stresses and resources across different life-course domains, such as family, work, education, leisure time or well-being trajectories. (More)
CCI 2 - Stress and resource dynamics in social interactions and across analysis levels (multi-level)
This cross-cutting issue explores the dynamics of stress and resilience among interdependent individuals or between individuals and the normative and institutional context in which they are embedded. (More)
CCI 3 - Accumulation of resources and development of vulnerability over the life course (multidirectional)
This cross-cutting issue emphasises the importance of the accumulation of social and economic as well as psychological and physiological resources over the course of life. (More)
CCI 4 - Methodological advances on vulnerability and the life course
This cross-cutting issue develops strategies for innovative longitudinal analyses and new methods to study vulnerability across the course of life, at both individual and population levels. (More)
The second phase of the NCCR LIVES, from 2015 to 2019, had nine reserach projects:
- Trajectories within contexts (IP201) - Felix Bühlmann
- Education and employment (IP204) - Rafael Lalive
- Welfare boundaries (IP205) - Jean-Michel Bonvin
- Gender and occupations (IP206) - Nicky Le Feuvre
- Career paths (IP207) - Jérôme Rossier
- Family configurations and the life course (IP208) - Clémentine Rossier
- Relationships in later life (IP212) - Hansjörg Znoj
- Old age (IP213) - Matthias Kliegel
- Measuring vulnerability (IP214) - Gilbert Ritschard
During the first phase of the NCCR LIVES (2011-2014), the pole consisted of 14 research projects :
- Vulnerability processes in adult life: Cumulative disadvantages, critical events, and socio-psychosocial resources (IP1)
- From youth to adulthood: Descendents of immigrants insertion in the Swiss society (IP2)
- Economic inequalities: Towards pathways out of vulnerability (IP4)
- Overcoming vulnerability to unemployment: Possibilities and limits of the so-called "active" social policies (IP5)
- Vulnerability at the interface of professional and family life: Gender and occupational differentials (IP6)
- Professional trajectories: Impact of individual characteristics and resources, and cultural background (IP7)
- Critical events and family configurations (IP8)
- Facing critical events in early adulthood: A normative approach to vulnerability and life course regulation (IP9)
- Health trajectories and life transitions: A life course approach to health vulnerability (IP10)
- Women facing cancer: Impact of the social suppport (IP11)
- Vulnerability and growth: Developmental dynamics and differential effects of the loss of an intimate partner in the 2nd life half (IP12)
- Behind the democratization of old age: Inequalities within progress (IP13)
- Measuring life sequences and the disorder of lives (IP14)
- Life transitions in context: Towards an integrated methodological framework for studying the impact of critical events (IP15)
The LIVES Board is composed of the NCCR Board of Directors and all the IP leaders engaged in the NCCR. It is in charge of the scientific, institutional and financial strategies.
The Advisory Committee is a consultative board, whose missions are to give advice to the Board of Directors and to serve as a reviewer board for current and future NCCR projects. It is composed of experienced national and international academics.
The FREE Committee is in charge of the strategies regarding education, careers and equality.
The Transfer Committee is in charge of the communications and knowledge transfer strategies.
The General Assembly votes the rules of the NCCR and any changes to the NCCR rules are submitted to the General Assembly. The General Assembly is also a place of information and discussion, where the voices of the NCCR employees can be heard and where they are informed.