Family ties and vulnerability processes: Network-wide properties, agency and life-course relational reserves (IP5-family)

Research Agenda

The research group focuses on family relations as key resources as well as potential stressors in individual processes of vulnerability and resilience at different stages of the life course (childhood, adulthood, old age). The psychological, public health and epidemiological literature of the last few decades has given ample empirical evidence that interpersonal ties and social support, among which family is central, greatly improve individuals’ physical and psychological well-being. This literature has also underlined that these positive effects on health and well-being are conditional on quality ties, the presence of poor-quality relations being as or even more stressful than the absence of relationship.

We explore in a more systematic fashion how family and interpersonal ties and their effect on psychological well-being are socially situated. Our general objectives are three-fold:
(1) studies considering the global effect of being embedded in configurations of family relationships on psychosocial health or well-being;
(2) understand the role of individual agency in shaping family/personal networks in order to adapt to the consequence of critical transitions (such as lone parenthood or re-partnering);
(3) structure our investigation of the long-term (and resource absorbing) constitution of relational capital, and of its depletion and intensive use in stressful life stages, we shall closely consider critical propositions associated with the reserve approach concerning accumulation, activation and thresholds of resources throughout the life course.


Professor Clémentine Rossier (University of Geneva)
Professor Laura Bernardi (University of Lausanne)

  • UNIGE: Michel Oris, Eric Widmer
  • UNIL: Marta Roca Escoda, Daniel Stöcklin
Researchers and post-docs
  • UNIGE: Marie Baeriswyl, Gaël Brulé, Olga Ganjour, Myriam Girardin, Gina Potarca
  • UNIL: Danilo Bolano, Ornella Larenza, Jean-Marie Le Goff, Nuria Sanchez, 
  • FORS: Marlène Sapin, Marieke Voorpostel
  • HESGE: Eva Nada
Doctoral students
  • UNIGE: Dinah Gross, Sabrina Roduit

Other staff

  • UNIGE: Caroline Dubath, Kevin Roulin