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Working groups

LIVES Centre's working groups are research think tanks open to LIVES members. The mission of the LIVES Centre's working groups is to develop, on the initiative of researchers, interdisciplinary collaborations in the field of life courses and/or vulnerability.

You are a member and would you like to propose a working group?

Any proposals for the creation of a working group can be submitted to Daniel Oesch ( or Clémentine Rossier ( by e-mail. Further information is available at the bottom of this page. 

Several working groups are currently active within the LIVES Centre on the following themes: 

The working group brings together LIVES members that conduct research on family structures, family relationships, family roles and their change across space and time. Typical focuses will be:

  • Family configurations, family trajectories and family arrangements, multiple and diverse families 
  • Normative (social and legal) regulation and recognition of multiple and diverse families (family law, family policy, social norms on family transitions)
  • Well-being within families (and inequalities in well-being)

The group aims at establishing scientific and public exchange within and outside LIVES.


This working group is linked to the research conducted as part of Cause commune (a project associated with LIVES), which analyses the influence of local environments and social quality on health dynamics. It aims to explore the possibilities of launching a digital platform to study these links within municipalities in Vaud and Bern, and to develop collaborations with international colleagues interested in the same topics.


In the difficult post-pandemic context, the generation Z cohort now straddles adolescence, entry into education and access to the labour market. Their journey to adulthood is beginning and a field of research for years to come. 


The working group will continue the research activities of former IP3 (ageing) of the NCCR LIVES focusing on the life course pathways of resilience and vulnerability in and into old age. It will address the questions of how multi domain reserves develop across the lifespan, how stress affects health across the lifespan and how interventions can help to overcome vulnerability and foster resilience. The working group will apply a multidisciplinary approach in terms of conceptual models and methodology.


The proposed working group will continue the research activities of IP5 (family) and IP1 (meso-level) of the NCCR LIVES focusing on personal and family networks as resources and stressors in the life course, from young adulthood into old age. It will address the questions of how relational reserves develop across through individual time, in relation with non-normative event, transitions, stages and trajectories, and how stress relates with such reserves. It will also consider cohort and period effects. The working group will apply a multidisciplinary approach (sociology, social demography, social psychology) in terms of conceptual models and methodology.


Recent and current technological and societal developments have increased the importance of education and skills as resources that allows social integration. On the one hand, digitalization and the shift to a knowledge economy are leading a transformation of the labour market in which routine-based jobs are increasingly replaced my machines. On the other hand, the jobs that remain and those that are newly created tend to be increasingly demanding in terms of skill requirements.

As a result, societies that want to preserve acceptable levels of social cohesion must invest in skills in a very broad way. In particular, it is important that disadvantaged groups are included in upskilling efforts. By strengthening investment in everyone’s skills western European welfare states may be able to preserve the levels of social cohesion they have inherited from the postwar years but need to reorient their policies accordingly.

Investing in skills is important at all stages of the life course. The most effective investments may be those made during early childhood. Inclusive educational institutions are also key in moderating social inequalities among adults. The role of the vocational training system is paramount, and countries which have good quality and inclusive systems clearly have an advantage, visible for example in lower levels of youth unemployment. Subsequently, for people of working age, active labour market policies and continuing education are key instruments. As countries are increasing the age of retirement, these policies become relevant for increasingly older groups of workers.

Investment in skills will not replace redistribution as the main function of the welfare state. However, current and foreseeable trends, suggest that investments in skills will play an increasingly important role in shaping the distribution of life chances in western societies and the institutions of the welfare state.

Against this background, the working group on Skills and inclusiveness aims at promoting research, and debate on the broad issue of investments in skills as a means to promote social cohesion and fight inequality. We are interested in several questions, including:

  • What are the consequences of technological change in terms of skill demand?
  • How effective in promoting social cohesion are different skill formation policies? 
  • What are the politics of inclusive educational and skill formation policies?
  • How do access biases in skill development programmes come about? And how can they be reduced?
  • Does the current skill shortage context represent an opportunity of inclusive skill formation policies?
  • ...

Coordinator :

Since 2022, the LangAge group has been working on the influences of language and culture on ageing. The group is interdisciplinary, and includes experts from the fields of linguistics, psychology and sociology. Group activities involve meetings and conferences (with financial support from SAWG). We are planning studies on perspectives on ageing (e.g. perspectives on ageing, negative stereotypes, evaluation of one's own ageing) and their link with quality of life, depending on the language region, for 2024. Submission of an SNF project is planned for 2024/2025.


The working group will continue key research activities of former CCI3 (cumulative (dis-)advantages) and CCI4 (methodological advances) of the NCCR LIVES to address the dynamic and multi-directional development of vulnerability and resilience across the lifespan in multiple domains of human functioning (including cognition, health, well-being, and activity engagement). Specifically, we will investigate the dynamic interplay across the lifespan of developmental spheres (including resources, reserves, risks, life events, transitions, surrounding contexts, etc.). Thereby, we will adopt multi-disciplinary approaches applying a variety of sophisticated methods.


The working group “Elites and Inequalities” will study aspects of the rise and fall within elites and will work on how elites not only influence but also shape discourse surrounding issues of vulnerability and inequality within society. The working group will explore research perspectives on elites that emerge from various disciplines (sociology; political sciences; history; management, psychology) combined with central key issues raised in a sociology of the life course, inequality and vulnerability.

One fundamental pillar of our research group is on elites and their trajectories. One example could be to study emergent and established elites and their trajectories after critical events. To investigate adaptation patterns in professional careers and networks after events that significantly impact an individual's or a group's position of influence. Or we could examine the aftermath of electoral defeats for politicians, exploring the paths they take in the wake of such setbacks. We might scrutinize how top managers in the economy navigate their careers after scandals. Or we might study critical career events of aspirant elites and examine how these events shape their trajectories.

A second pillar of our working group centers on questions around elites and vulnerability. We could for instance study the consequences of decisions made by elites on less privileged social groups. For example, we might investigate how decisions such policies aiming at maximizing shareholder value affect the living conditions of average workers within firm. By scrutinizing the impact of elite decisions, our aim is to uncover the implications for social groups with fewer privileges. In a similar line, we aim to contribute to the understanding of how elites shape representations of precarity and merit ascribed to social groups. A concrete example would be to examine how philanthropic elites structure the public discourse on precarity, wealth inequality, and deservingness. A third research direction in this pillar is to explore divergences between the values and political opinions on precarity and merit among the elite compared to the larger group of citizens. Through this inquiry, connecting data on elites with large questionnaire surveys, we could uncover nuanced insights into the alignment or misalignment of values and opinions among different societal strata.



The WGs comprise at least three senior researchers, members of the LIVES Centre, who wish to develop research on a given theme with an interdisciplinary focus. In order for a WG to be recognised by LIVES, it must be approved by the LIVES Centre management. Proposals can be made at any time. 

Full information about LIVES Working Groups