"Children’s Rights and the Capability Approach: Challenges and Prospects"

"Children’s Rights and the Capability Approach: Challenges and Prospects"

Daniel Stoecklin (Kurt Bösch Institute) and Jean-Michel Bonvin (HETS-EESP & NCCR LIVES) are editors of a new volume published by Springer, including a chapter written by Stephan Dahmen (HETS-EESP & NCCR LIVES).

This volume addresses the conditions allowing the transformation of specific children’s rights into capabilities in settings as different as children’s parliaments, organised leisure activities, contexts of vulnerability, children in care. It addresses theoretical questions linked to children’s agency and reflexivity, education, the life cycle perspective, child participation, evolving capabilities, and citizenship.

It highlights important issues that have to be taken into account for the implementation of human rights and the development of peoples’ capabilities. The focus on children’s capabilities along a rights-based approach is an inspiring perspective that researchers and practitioners in the field of human rights would like to deepen.

Children’s Rights and the Capability Approach. Challenges and Prospects contains contributions from two members of the CESCAP (Haute école de travail social et de la santé - EESP Lausanne, HES-SO) and of the LIVES Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research IP5: Jean-Michel Bonvin and Stephan Dahmen.

  • Stoecklin, D., & Bonvin, J.-M. (Eds.). (2014). Children’s Rights and the Capability Approach. Challenges and Prospects. Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Dahmen, S. (2014). The Theoretical Orthodoxy of Children’s and Youth Agency and Its Contradictions: Moving from Normative Thresholds to a Situated Assessment of Children’s and Youth Lives. In D. Stoecklin & J.-M. Bonvin (Eds.), Children’s Rights and the Capability Approach. Challenges and Prospects (pp. 153-173). Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Stoecklin, D., & Bonvin, J.-M. (2014). Cross-Fertilizing Children’s Rights and the Capability Approach. The Example of the Right to Be Heard in Organized Leisure. In D. Stoecklin & J.-M. Bonvin (Eds.), Children’s Rights and the Capability Approach. Challenges and Prospects (pp. 131-152). Dordrecht: Springer.
Scholars from Latin Europe inaugurate new association of historical demography

Scholars from Latin Europe inaugurate new association of historical demography

The NCCR LIVES co-director Michel Oris is member of the scientific and organising committees of the inaugural conference to create the European Society of Historical Demography, promoted by the Société de Démographie Historique (SDH), the Asociación de Demografía Histórica (ADEH) and the Società Italiana di Demografia Storica (SIDeS). The conference will take place in Alghero-Sassari (Sardinia, Italy) on 25-27 September 2014.

The new society will be established to foster co-operation between scholars engaged or interested in historical demography studies in Europe, and stimulate interest in population matters in the European Union scientific programmes and agencies as well as among governments, national and international organisations, and the general public.

During the Alghero Conference, several LIVES members will present a paper:

Aline Duvoisin and Sylvie Burgnard from the University of Geneva will present “Childless women during the baby boom in Switzerland” during the session “Qualitative and mixed approaches of fertility behaviours” on September 25, chaired by Michel Oris, also leader of LIVES IP13.

On September 26, Rainer Gabriel and Michel Oris from the University of Geneva will present “A life course perspective on poverty in old-age Switzerland” during the session “Life Course approaches in historical demography” chaired by Gilbert Ritschard.

Gilbert Ritschard, head of LIVES IP14 and professor at the University of Geneva, will present “Promises and requirements of recent development in sequence analysis” during the session “Life course and the transformation of historical demography”.

Michel Oris will also chair a session on “Internal and international migrations” on September 27.

See the conference website: www.eshd.eu

Inequalities in modern societies and families in the 21st century: symposium and public lecture

Inequalities in modern societies and families in the 21st century: symposium and public lecture

The Geneva School of Social Science and the Geneva School of Economics and Management, in collaboration with the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), organise a day-long symposium on inequalities in modern societies with many key players on September 25, 2014. This event will be followed in the evening by a public lecture on the evolution of family forms by Gøsta Esping-Andersen, renowned professor of sociology at the University of Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona.

The rector of Geneva University, Jean-Dominique Vassalli, with Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch (Head of SECO), will do the openings of the symposium. The vice-rector Yves Flückiger, Cyril Muller of the World Bank, Didier Chambovey (SECO), Pierre Maudet (Chief of Department of Economics and Security, Geneva), Jean-Nathanaël Karakash (Chief of Department of Economics and Social Action, Neuchâtel) and many other prestigious members of the political and academic world will be also present.

Prof. Gosta Esping-Andersen, who will deliver the opening lecture of the 2014-2015 academic year at 7pm, will take part in the morning session panel of the symposium. Prof. Jean-Michel Bonvin and Prof. Michele Pellizzari, both members of the NCCR LIVES, will chair and conclude the afternoon session panel.

This event is organised by the University of Geneva and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) with the support of the NCCR LIVES and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Registration deadline: September 24 at inequalities-2014@unige.ch

Couverture du livre "Adultes aînés, les oubliés de la formation" aux éditions Antipodes

We still need to learn after 65: a fact which is starting to be understood

A round table supported by the Swiss National Center of Competence in Research LIVES on 18 September 2014 in Lausanne brought together several participants form the political, academic, economic and community spheres to discuss education for older people, to coincide with the launch of the book by Roland J. Campiche and Afi Sika Kuzeawu. Although the participants agreed on the urgent need, they found it difficult to agree on the steps to be taken.

"I admit that this book shook my certainties a bit: its premises should have been obvious, but they had not yet struck me, and they still haven't been understood by everyone", said Guy Parmelin, national UDC adviser. The round table was held on Thursday 18 September at the Continental Hotel in Lausanne and was organised by the NCCR LIVES in partnership with the Swiss federation of universities of the third age, the Leenaards foundation and the Champ-Soleil foundation. Almost 80 people attended.

Chaired by the journalist Manuela Salvi, the debate saw wide consensus on the increasing importance of older people in society. "Together, they make up the biggest kindergarten force in Switzerland", said Roland J. Campiche, who presented his latest work, published by éditions Antipodes: Older adults, left behind by education [1].


Honorary professor of the University of Lausanne, Roland J. Campiche also mentioned the contribution older people make to community activities, their influence on votes and in town council, pointing out that in Switzerland, half of people surveyed would like to work for longer. "Nevertheless, it's as if after retirement, people are put in a no-man's land when it comes to education". The sociologist claims that this denial is evidenced by the fact that the recent laws on universities and ongoing training do not say a word about education for older people.

Several participants referred to this need to learn new things: to find their way in an increasingly digital world, to be able to help very elderly relatives, to prevent degeneration, as "the brain wears out when it's not in use", according to the neurologist Yves Dunant, to fight the depression which affects individuals going through life's major transitions – adolescence andretirement, and for which the costs could be even higher than the cost of Alzheimer's disease. They could even "be used as a source of indigenous labour after the electroshock of 9 February", according to the deliberately provocative suggestion of socialist council of states representative Géraldine Savary (referring to the results of the Swiss immigration referendum), who said that she was "convinced that this discussion will arise".


However, the participants could not agree on how this could be achieved. By introducing public funding? Creating legal bases? And which organisations should be established or protected? In his book, Roland J. Campiche calls for official recognition of the role played by universities of the third age, along with financial support from the State, which he puts at 500,000 francs per year. "We should also point out that this would bring a return on investment; it's a language that the politicians understand", suggested a person from the audience.

However, some people are concerned by the "elitist" nature of universities of the third age, pointing out that there are other sources of education, and even training, available for older people: associations or foundations (Pro-SenectuteForce nouvelle, FAAG), universités populaires, Migros courses, etc.


Roland J. Campiche challenged "the myth of an inaccessible university", stating that students at universities of the third age came from all walks of life. But he admitted that a new form of pedagogy needs to develop, "peers by peers", which is more interactive, and values the skills of older adults, and which could even "breathe new life into the whole education system".

Finally, a few suggestions were made by the participants: reduce the health costs of older people in education, campaign for a national research programme on the issue, professionalise voluntary training, consider education as a human project "from birth to death", encourage intergenerational exchange...

"Young retirees involved in education are still a minority, but it is proven that one or two years more or less education throughout a lifetime have major effects on longevity", according to sociologist François Höpflinger.

600,000 baby boomers will retire in the next few years. "Time is needed between the observation and the implementation. That's why lobbying is needed", said Guy Parmelin, now a firm supporter of the cause. He will soon have a tool to help him lobby his German-speaking colleagues: the book by Roland J. Campiche and Afi Sika Kuzeawu will be published next year in German by éditions Seismo.

[1] Adultes aînés: les oubliés de la formation (Older adults, left behind by education) by Roland J. Campiche and Afi Sika Kuzeawu with the collaboration of Jacques Lanares, Sandrine Morante, Denis Berthiaume, éditions Antipodes, Lausanne, 2014


M. Oris and G. Ritschard: Sequence Analysis and Transition to Adulthood

New publication brings together "big names in the small field" of a promising method

The Lake Geneva region has become crucial in the development of sequence analysis, a method that is currently enjoying rapid growth in the social sciences. Researchers from the National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES at the universities of Lausanne and Geneva who specialise in life course research are among the key players in sequence analysis development. Their latest advances have been brought together in a new book edited by Philippe Blanchard, Felix Bühlmann and Jacques-Antoine Gauthier and published by Springer.

Why are some people likely to find themselves in a situation of vulnerability while others are not? Until a few years ago, social scientists were unable to answer this question, because the only models they had were synchronic ones, which looked at individuals at a specific moment in time and did not allow a longitudinal perspective. The development of life course studies, which are, by definition, diachronic and interdisciplinary in nature, led to an increased interest in processes. Such studies largely borrowed methods from the "hard" sciences, particularly genetic biology and bioinformatics, to represent sequences of states and events statistically.

Sequence analysis thus allows researchers to construct typologies of individual trajectories concerning topics such as family configurations, professional careers and employability, major life transitions such as entering adulthood, parenthood, and retirement as well as trajectories for migration, health and ageing. This method has also spread beyond the field of sociology and is used for research in the areas of developmental psychology, history, demographics and political science.

The different applications of sequence analysis have now become the subject of a book, which is based on a joint editorial project by the universities of Lausanne and Geneva. Advances in Sequence Analysis: Theory, Method, Applications is the second volume in a series published by Springer on life course and social policy research. The series is being supervised by the three members of the NCCR LIVES board of directors: Dario Spini, Michel Oris and Laura Bernardi.

A project born between Lausanne and Geneva

In 2012 the Lausanne conference on sequence analysis (LaCOSA) was held in Lausanne, bringing together around thirty individuals from around the world who were experienced in using this method. They included renowned researchers such as Cees Elzinga, Brendan Halpin and Anette Fasang. The conference was organised by Philippe Blanchard from the Institute of Political and International Studies and Felix Bühlmann and Jacques-Antoine Gauthier from the Institute of Social Sciences, both members of the National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES. A third of the participants and several speakers were also linked to LIVES, notably Professor Gilbert Ritschard’s team from the University of Geneva, who developed the sequence analysis tool TraMineR, which provides a genuine benchmark for specialists.

"Compared to other methods, sequence analysis is used by a relatively small community," explains Felix Bühlmann. "That is how we managed to persuade big names in this small field to attend the conference and then contribute to a joint publication."

Conceptual Innovations

"This book’s strength is based on an apparent weakness: the method and the thematic areas described are rarely mentioned in scientific journals because such publications require a certain format that is not very compatible with the conceptual and visual innovations provided by sequence analysis," says Felix Bühlmann.

For Jacques-Antoine Gautier, "the diversity of the contributions in this book brings about a more assertive methodological community and provides a space for original reflection on the nature of sequence analysis and its place in the social sciences."

At the NCCR LIVES, several studies on different groups of vulnerable people are based on sequence analysis, since it makes it possible to reduce the complexity of individual trajectories and increase the readability of stages and transitions that shape life courses.

Meanwhile, this method is continuing to make waves: the leading sequence analysis specialists at LIVES will share their knowledge with researchers from around the world at a methodological workshop on 8 October 2014. The event will precede the annual conference of the Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies (SLLS), which will be held at the University of Lausanne this year.