Photo Hugues Siegenthaler

Towards a better understanding of inequalities in health

Three LIVES members are participating from 29 August to 1 September 2012 in an international congress of health sociology in Hannover, with two doctoral students presenting their research.

As part of the Congress "Health inequalities over the life course" organized by the European Society for Health and Medical Sociology (ESHMS) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Soziologie (DGMS), a session is organized by members of the Swiss National Center of Competence in Research LIVES.

Entitled "Health trajectories and cumulative (dis)advantage during adulthood", the session it is led by Claudine Burton-Jeangros, professor of sociology at the University of Geneva and head of the IP10, as well as Stéphane Cullati and Alexis Gabadinho, PhD students in the same project.

Both doctoral students present their research. Stéphane Cullati develops a joint analysis of self-reported health trajectories and work-related exhaustion trajectories, this in a sample of 2327 respondents of the Swiss Household Panel between 2004-2010, in order to examine the cumulative effects . Alexis Gabadinho's presentation focuses on the analysis of sequences in health trajectories.

Photo © Jacek Chabraszewski -

Study on the many faces of single parenthood in Switzerland

LIVES researchers started in July 2012 a qualitative study of a fact which has now become common but is still little analyzed. Based on forty interviews, the team consisting of two sociologists and a demographer intends to challenge some stereotypes about single mothers and fathers.

In a city like Geneva, one in five households is composed of a parent without a partner to face one or more children. "These are not only miserable and depressed mothers”, says Cornelia Hummel, senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Geneva and a researcher at the NCCR LIVES. "Conversely, it is possible to find a real precariousness with a higher education", adds his colleague Nasser Tafferant, senior researcher at the University of Lausanne.

This heterogeneity of situations emerged during the first interviews that both sociologists have conducted since July 2012, the premises of a study which will continue until mid 2013, in collaboration with the professor of demography and life course Laura Bernardi, vice-director of the NCCR LIVES.


The team focuses not only on the objective and material conditions of single parenthood in everyday life, but also on representations associated with such a status, whether chosen or forced. During the interviews, the researchers approach the history of the couple and its separation, the role of the ex-spouse in education of children, expectations for the environment and society, the attitude to celibacy. "Some single mothers have expressed a sense of stigma that overwhelms them either through institutions or in the neighborhood," noted the sociologists.

If the failure of the couple project seems to affect most people already interviewed, some women however mention the extra freedom and social life that the separation made possible, provided that the father takes part to the child care. These fathers may even be "pervasive", by wanting to get involved, mention some mothers... Statements running counter to the belief that single parenthood means isolation.

But dig a little deeper, we see that these modern families retain traces of gendered division of domestic labor: joint custody does not always mean alternating laundry, and many children come back from dad’s home with a suitcase loaded of dirty chothes.

And children in all this? "The lone parents are permanently subjected to questions about the psychological state of their child-ren. We do not want to emphasize on this point. Enough people tend to confuse us with psychologists and we are not here for that", says Cornelia Hummel. The researchers rather try to identify which kind of man or woman exist behind the role of father or mother, how this identity is evolving and how the surrounding network is changing.

"No Victims"

In many cases, the researchers found how the vulnerability felt by respondents could be constructed by the gaze of others. Without denying the lack of resources - money or time - that weighs on many single-parent families, the team was particularly struck by the courage and dignity of those parents who accept their condition and avoid the most to be a burden to the community in seeking help. As noted Tafferant Nasser, "there is in many of the women we heard a symbolic struggle for autonomy and recognition of their status. They do not want to appear as victims. "

The team hopes to follow families encountered over time to monitor their progress. People who will agree may even be included in the sample of the future wave of the Swiss Household Panel which collects longitudinal data on different types of households in Switzerland.

Photo Félix Imhof

LIVES at the heart of the 6th Congress of French Speaking Feminist Research in Lausanne

Several researchers of the NCCR LIVES actively participate in this gathering from 29 August to 2 September 2012, four years after the last edition in Rabat (Morocco).

More than 600 participants flock to Lausanne from Wednesday 29 August to Sunday 2 September 2012 for the 6th Congress of French Speaking Feminist Research. Three researchers of the NCCR LIVES are part of the steering committee and six other LIVES members contribute, with communications and chairing some sessions.

The steering committee is composed of 13 people from the Centre for Gender Studies LIEGE, University of Lausanne and the Interuniversity Laboratory for Gender Studies  of the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (HES LIEGE · SO) based in Geneva. On the Lausanne side, the three members of the NCCR LIVES are: Nicky Le Feuvre and Farinaz Fassa, professors, and Lavinia Gianettoni, senior lecturer, all active in IP6, "Vulnerability at the interface of professional and family life: Gender and occupational differentials".

The head of this project, Nicky Feuvre, participated in three editions of the Congress of French Speaking Feminist Research, including that of Toulouse in 2002, where she had been involved in the organization: "I told myself at the time it was good to have done this at least once in ones life, but it was exhausting, though. I had never imagined being involved again in this adventure!”

For the task of the steering committee represents an enormous investment that must be maintained in the long run: "We've been there for over 18 months, with weekly meetings for a year and almost a daily rythm since the beginning of the summer, plus an avalanche of emails. But it is also a great collective adventure. Lots of stress, but lots of laugh too! I think we can be proud of the result", says Nicky Le Feuvre.

Progress in the analysis of "intersectionality"

According to the professor, the theme of the 6th Congress, "Nesting of power relations: discrimination and privileges of gender, race, class and sexuality" has emerged quite naturally, because the question of the interconnection of different power relations is at the heart of gender studies around the world right now: "We wanted to enjoy the presence of all these gender specialists colleagues to really progress in the analysis of "intersectionality". If we judge by the number of received communication proposals, this theme actually struck a chord with the scientific community. "

This impressive program of 26 workshops, 10 round tables and 8 plenary lectures  includes some 400 papers of about 550 authors and co-authors. As far as members of LIVES are concerned, Jacques-Antoine Gauthier and Dominique Joye present two papers with Lavinia Gianettoni (already cited as a member of the steering committee): The career aspirations of adolescents in Switzerland: An interaction between gender, class and national origin and The career aspirations of girls and boys between gender ideologies of teachers and social background of students. These two presentations are derived from the research conducted within the National Research Program NRP 60 "Equalities between men and women", and more specifically from the "Professional aspirations of boys and girls at the end of compulsory schooling" part, for which the researchers conducted a survey of approximately 3,500 students and their teachers in the three levels of secondary schools I in the Swiss States of Bern (French speaking part only), Geneva, Vaud and Ticino.

In the same workshop, Farinaz Fassa presents Sexism is other people, and in another workshop of the Congress, Isabelle Zinn presents the research she conducts as PhD student in IP6: The overlap of sex, gender and sexual orientation in the study of "masculinities" at work: the case of florists and butchers, and Pierre Bataille, also a PhD student at the IP6, presents Support, stigma, asset or annuity? Gender, cultural capital and social uses of academic titles of nobility on the labor market. The case of alumni from Fontenay, Lyon and Saint-Cloud (1981-1987).

At last PhD Student Anne Perriard presents, together with Prof. Jean-Pierre Tabin, both members of IP5 and researchers at the Haute école de travail social et de la santé - EESP Lausanne, Social investment, new mode of (re)production of male domination.

All these issues fit well with the core target of the congress. Because as points Nicky Le Feuvre, it would be wrong to think that gender inequalities have almost disappeared in our Western societies "enlightened" by 40 years of feminism: "People agree to admit that women still face discrimination, but only in far away countries! The challenge is to show the new forms, sometimes less visible and more complex, that the inequalities take in the West today.”

Full program :

Sessions with LIVES members :

Workshop 7. Imbrication des rapports de pouvoir dans l’éducation

Responsible:  FASSA Farinaz, GIANETTONI Lavinia, PERRY Véronique

Session 1: Wednesday 29 Aug. 2012 16:30-18:00
Orientation professionnelle
Chair: GIANETTONI Lavinia

Les aspirations professionnelles des adolescent-e-s en Suisse : Une interaction entre genre, classe sociale et origine nationale

Session 6: Saturday 1 Sept. 2012 16:30-18:00
Pratiques des prof. et doing gender
Chair: STORARI Chiara

FASSA Farinaz & STORARI Chiara
Le sexisme, c’est les autres

Les aspirations professionnelles des filles et des garçons : entre idéologies sexistes des enseignant-e-s et origine sociale des élèves

Workshop 19. Groupes professionnels, métiers et professions

Responsible: JARTY Julie, LAPEYRE Nathalie, LE FEUVRE Nicky, ZINN Isabelle

Session 1: Wednesday 29 Aug. 2012 16:30-18:00
Métiers de service
Chair: BATAILLE Pierre

ZINN Isabelle
L’imbrication du sexe, du genre et de l’orientation sexuelle dans l’étude des «masculinités» au travail : le cas des fleuristes et des bouchers/ères

Session 6: Saturday 1 Sept. 2012 16:30-18:00
Formations et professions supérieures
Chair: ZINN Isabelle

Charge, stigmate, atout ou rente ? Genre, capital culturel et usages sociaux des titres de noblesse scolaire sur le marché du travail. Le cas des ancien-ne-s élèves des ENS de Fontenay, Saint-Cloud et Lyon (1981-1987)

Atelier 22. Régulation politique des inégalités

Session 3: Jeudi 30.08.2012 16h30-18h00
Etat et politiques publiques II
Présidence : CÔTÉ Denyse

TABIN Jean-Pierre & PERRIARD Anne
L’investissement social, nouveau mode de (re)production de la domination masculine