Swiss Society for Research in Education's Annual Conference 2016 : "Where does school stop?..."

Swiss Society for Research in Education's Annual Conference 2016 : "Where does school stop?..."

"Where does school stop? Transformations and shifts of educational boundaries" is the title of the next annual conference of the SSRE from June 29 to July 1, 2016 at the University of Lausanne. The deadline of the call for papers is set on January 31, 2016. Among the proposed topics, "Transitions and orientations" and "Lifelong learning" could be of interest to scholars specialising in life course studies. The NCCR LIVES is one of the sponsors.

The prolonging of education in general and the development of lifelong learning have moved the traditional boundaries in education. New forms of teaching and learning are becoming part of everyday practices and relationships. Bodies of knowledge themselves are transformed or challenged through public debates about social issues. Nowadays, societal challenges, which are shaking up debates on citizenship, the use of technology and environmental issues, are also evident in school. As a consequence, the boundaries between education, everyday life and professional activity are transformed, moved and blurred.

The annual conference of the Swiss Society for Research in Education (SSRE) aims to question and discuss the main challenges inherent in these changes. Researchers are invited to propose a contribution with a specific focus on the following themes:

  1. The relation between training/education, everyday life and professional life (school-family relationships, integration and inclusion processes, prevention programmes, education on sensitive social issues, etc.)
  2. Education policies (transformation of educational organisations and programmes, political and institutional challenges in relation to education and training, debates on citizenship education, vocational training and unemployment, etc.)
  3. The transformation of educational professions (changes in the training of trainers or in educational provision and materials, health and safety at work, etc.)
  4. Transitions and orientations (in school; between school and vocational training or professional life; between professional life and retirement; inequality processes and practices of differentiation; redefinition of identity, etc.)
  5. Lifelong learning (the contribution of longitudinal studies, the challenges of continuing professional development, life stories, etc.)
  6. Material mediations (the role of mediation tools and objects, media, image and ICT, electronic games and social networks, etc.)

Beyond these themes, researchers will be invited to submit proposals about research projects in progress and pertaining to all domains of educational science. The conference languages are French, German, Italian and English.

Call for papers

Whereas the keynotes address the conference theme, all other contributions focus on a variety of themes from all areas of educational research.

For your submission please select ssre 2016 – submission
January 31, 2016
Presentation formats : Individual paper, Symposium and Poster

Themes of the conference

  • The relation between training/education, everyday life and professional life
  • Education policies
  • The transformation of educational professions
  • Transitions and orientations
  • Lifelong learning
  • Material mediations
  • Other

>> Conference website

Special Tribute to Valeria Solesin, a PhD Student in Paris killed on Friday 13th in the Bataclan theater

Special Tribute to Valeria Solesin, a PhD Student in Paris killed on Friday 13th in the Bataclan theater

By NCCR LIVES deputy director Laura Bernardi, who met her a few hours before the tragedy during a meeting at the French National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED).

Valeria Solesin, a doctoral student at INED in Paris, is among the victims of Friday 13th November 2015 in the Bataclan theatre. I met her on that very day when she asked me to be part of the scientific committee of a congress of young researchers she wanted to organise in September 2016. A few hours later her past and her future, her life, have been blown away by the absurdity of the terrorist attack.

Valeria was one of those young Italian students who left home to pursue her dream, to be able to study and work on what she thought would be a useful and meaningful domain: ensuring equal opportunities for mothers at work. Something that her killers cannot accept and maybe cannot even understand. Valeria was also a convinced pacifist and an active member of the NGO Emergency, who provides assistance to the civil victims of wars, in times when attacks to civilians multiply.

These few lines are here to thank her for both her research work and her civic engagement, both examples of the kind of agency and resilience we need when we are made vulnerable.

Laura Bernardi

Photo iStock © Sturti

Kids and workload are worse than illness for couples, but things get better at retirement

The relationship quality of 721 couples in Switzerland over a period of thirteen years is at the core of a PhD thesis that was conducted within the framework of the NCCR LIVES. Manuela Schicka successfully defended her dissertation on September 30th, 2015 at the University of Geneva. She demonstrated that while the various styles of conjugal interactions generally remain stable along the life course, some critical life events and transitions weigh much more on relationship quality than others, sometimes in unexpected ways.

Sociology of the family had already observed the spillover effect of socio-professional problems on conjugal relationships. Being unemployed or encountering financial difficulties is for sure not the easiest path to romantic felicity. We also knew that the transition to parenthood might be a huge blow for partners. But how to measure relationship quality? How does it evolve over time? And have all critical life events the same impact?

Longitudinal data collected within the NCCR LIVES’ IP208 project allowed Manuela Schicka to answer those questions. The Social Stratification, Cohesion and Conflicts in Contemporary Families survey, which Prof. Eric Widmer has been conducting since 1998 at the University of Geneva, generated unique information on stability and change among couples living in Switzerland.

1442 heterosexual long-lasting partners were observed in Manuela Schicka’s study. They were part of those who accepted to participate in the first and third wave of the survey in 1998 and 2011. During the second wave in 2004 it had only been possible to interview the women. The third wave also tried to reach separated or divorced people, but those were not included in the present analysis.

Critical life events and transitions

The doctoral candidate investigated if different critical life events and transitions have had an impact on the relationship quality and whether the types of conjugal interaction had an effect or not on these outcomes. She looked at normative (i.e. expected and ordinary) transitions like becoming parents, grown children leaving home (the “empty nest” syndrome) and retirement. She also examined non-normative (i.e. unexpected and unintended) events like socio-professional and health-related problems.

In order to address the relationship quality, she looked at indicators such as relationship satisfaction, thoughts of separation, conflicts of different sorts, and severity of arguments.

The styles of conjugal interactions were identified following the typology set by Jean Kellerhals and Eric Widmer, which is based on dimensions like cohesion (fusion vs. autonomy, openness vs. closure) and regulation (level of gendered role differentiation, level of routinisation).

High degree of fusion is an asset

Manuela Schicka’s research found that couples with a high degree of fusion resisted better to life hazards. She also observed that the style of conjugal interactions change very little over the life course. However, some transitions, especially the retirement phase, tend to result in the growth of fusion. This moment in time and the “empty nest” transition appeared as rather beneficial for relationship quality. By contrast, transition to parenthood and socio-professional problems generated more conflicts and a decrease in relationship satisfaction.

It is also interesting to note that serious illness and injuries do not affect relationship quality. Almost half of the interviewed couples had been confronted to health problems between the first and the third wave, whereas only 20% faced socio-professional difficulties.

Responsible or not for life hazards

Manuela Schicka explains the difference of outcome between work and health related problems by the fact that people are considered as controlling their occupational trajectory, whereas illness and accidents are seen as linked to bad luck and not personal responsibility. There is therefore less grief and bitter thoughts between partners when the latter occur. Furthermore, she notes that “the importance of life events in the professional domain can be explained by the importance for men and women in Switzerland to be part of and active in the labour market. A failure in this life domain leads to frustrations and disappointments.”

The other Swiss characteristic is related to the issue of children: as the researcher observes, “transition to parenthood is associated with a higher degree of closure of the couple, as well as greater differentiation of functional roles.” Women in this country often abandon or substantially reduce their participation in the labour market once they become a mother, because of lack of institutionalised child care facilities. This also generates a great deal of frustration.

It is therefore ironical that the main purpose of matrimonial union, having kids, is a major challenge to couple stability, whereas transitions to the “empty nest” and to retirement succeed in reuniting couples at an age that is generally not perceived as the most romantic one…

>> Schicka, Manuela (2015). The Impact of Critical Life Events and Life Transitions on Conjugal Quality: A Configurational Approach. Under the supervision of Eric Widmer. University of Geneva

Image iStock © Jennifer Borton

Gender inequality is still mirrored in young people's career aspirations

The third issue of the series Social Change in Switzerland addresses the gender division concerning career aspirations among adolescents. This article, by Lavinia Gianettoni et al., demonstrates that the majority of girls intend to enter a profession that is mixed or atypical in terms of gender. However, two-thirds see themselves working part-time in order to be able to combine work and family life. The internalisation of gender norms is thus maintaining the segregation of women on the labour market, which does not make sense from an economic perspective.

The article is based on a study on the professional aspirations and orientation among girls and boys nearing the end of compulsory education, which was financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation. It involved collecting data from 3,302 adolescents aged between 13 and 15 in five Swiss cantons (Geneva, Vaud, Ticino, Aargau and Bern) in 2011.

The authors have observed that almost two-thirds of the boys surveyed hope to enter a profession that is typical in terms of gender, i.e. one in which people of their own sex make up 70% or more of the total (IT specialist, police officer, etc.). Less than a third would like to enter mixed professions (doctor, secondary school teacher, etc.) and just 7% aim for an atypical profession (primary school teacher, hairdresser, etc.). As for the girls, a third would like to enter a typically female profession (early years teacher, beauty therapist, etc.), half are interested in a mixed profession and 19% would prefer an atypical profession (lawyer, engineer, etc.).

The data also show that two-thirds of girls imagine that they will work part-time in the future for family reasons, compared to 37% of boys. And while the boys' desired level of activity is not related to a particular type of career, the girls who want to work part-time are more likely to choose "women's" professions.

Institutional and ideological factors

The authors conclude that institutional and ideological factors still have an impact on young people's aspirations: insufficient childcare structures, a lack of work-life balance in certain professions and the way children are socialised – which still favours the division of roles based on gender – are maintaining the horizontal and vertical segregation of women on the labour market. There are still fewer women in professions that are valued by society and well paid. The same applies to high-level positions.

What is more, the persistence of these gender-based inequalities has an economic impact, since young women's training is not fully exploited by the labour market. For these reasons it is vital to keep working to remove the many constraints that limit young people's professional and family-related ambitions.

>> Lavinia Gianettoni, Carolina Carvalho Arruda, Jacques-Antoine Gauthier, Dinah Gross, Dominique Joye (2015)
Aspirations professionnelles des jeunes en Suisse: rôles sexués et conciliation travail/famille
Berufswünsche der Jugendlichen in der Schweiz: stereotype Rollenbilder und die Vereinbarkeit von Familie und Beruf

[Professional aspirations of young people in Switzerland: gendered roles and work-life balance]
Social Change in Switzerland No. 3.
Retrieved from

Contacts: Dr. Lavinia Gianettoni, 079 565 35 81,

Gender-based social hierarchies remain vivid, as a new book shows

Gender-based social hierarchies remain vivid, as a new book shows

With contributions from junior researchers based in French-speaking Switzerland and NCCR LIVES members from the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva, Gender and Social Hierarchies offers a fresh picture of applied research from within social psychology on the intricate relationship between gender and social status.

This book comprises a collection of innovative approaches which seek to understand the pervasiveness of status asymmetry between gender categories, and, in particular, the vulnerabilities experienced by women in their everyday life and career.

It is co-edited by Oriane Sarrasin, a post-doc researcher at the Swiss National Centre for Competence in Research LIVES, together with colleagues from the University of Geneva and the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland.

Drawing upon recent theoretical advances in gender, social and organizational psychology, the book provides tools for developing practical and political recommendations to address and resolve status inequality today.

Each chapter examines a different aspect of the impact that gender-based social hierarchies have on people’s lives.

Part One explores the consequences of gender stereotypes in school, higher education, and in professional settings. It includes a paper on “Sexism and the gendering of professional aspirations by Lavinia Gianettoni and Edith Guilley.

The struggles faced by women in the workplace are discussed in Part Two, featuring topics such as work-life balance, the ‘glass cliff’, and the lack of support for affirmative action. In this part Sarah D. Stauffer, Christian Maggiori, Claire Johnston, Shékina Rochat, and Jérôme Rossier present “Work-life balance vulnerabilities and resources for women in Switzerland: results from a national study”, which draws upon LIVES IP207 research.

Part Three is devoted to the antecedents and consequences of gender-based forms of prejudice, such as discrimination against gay men, and against women within cultural minorities. A must read is the paper by Oriane Sarrasin, Nicole Fasel, and Eva G.T. Green on “Gender differences in the acceptance of the Muslim headscarf”.

The book concludes with some practical suggestions for working towards lasting and beneficial change. 

>> Klea Faniko, Fabio Lorenzi-Cioldi, Oriane Sarrasin, Eric Mayor (eds.) (2016). Gender and Social Hierarchies. Perspectives from social psychology. London & New-York : Routledge. 194p.