Rebekka Sieber

Thèse de doctorat

Improvement of Quality of Life through Adaptation? A Qualitative Longitudinal Approach on Households in Precarious Prosperity in Three European Countries

Thèse acceptée le 3 septembre 2018 à l’unanimité du jury :

Prof. Christian Suter, Université de Neuchâtel, co-directeur de thèse

Prof. Monica Budowski, Université de Fribourg, co-directrice de thèse

Prof. Jean-Michel Bonvin, Université de Genève 

Prof. Christoph Maeder, Pädagogische Hochschule Zürich

Relevance : In light of welfare state retrenchment and the present times of crisis, households in risk of falling into poverty have become a largely debated topic in scientific research. "Precarious living conditions" or "precarious prosperity" denominates the situation of people living between secure prosperity and poverty. My cumulative dissertation on urban contexts in Switzerland, Romania and Spain will continue and deepen the research on this topic.
Research question : Do and how do the objective situation (welfare regimes, economic situation of the countries, household situation), the perceived scope of agency, the strategies and the subjective wellbeing of households in precarious socio-economic positions relate? How might this elements contribute to explain the household's perception of its quality of life?
Theoretical approach : Theoretically my research draws on welfare regimes and their importance for quality of life (opportunity structures, current economic situation), theories of agency and action and their connection with theories of subjective wellbeing and quality of life. This research aims at embedding individuals into their most proximate social environment, their households, considering them agents within given opportunity structures in pursue of wellbeing.
Thesis : The thesis of my dissertation is, that the households’ agency within the opportunity structures (welfare regimes), the objective living conditions and the household's resources is influencing its quality of life. It can moderate living conditions and/or subjective wellbeing.
Method : My research builds on two, respectively three waves of qualitative interviews with the same households collected in two comparative SNF funded research projects in three countries enabling a longitudinal perspective.
Results : First analyses reveal groups with similar patterns of living conditions, resources, strategies and quality of life. However, the opportunity structures influence the households’ interpretation and assessment of the situation and their perspectives for the future in different ways. The results suggest that perceived scope of agency is very important to improve living conditions and to achieve subjective wellbeing. If action (“doing”) is not considered or experienced a successful endeavour, agency changes from action to adapting and accepting the situation, reframing it in another way.
Originality of the topic : The present research adds a qualitative dimension to quality of life research that has been basically quantitatively oriented. It also adds a longitudinal perspective and herewith enable analyses of mechanisms at play between subjective wellbeing and QoL.


Intérêts de recherche

  • Précarité
  • Pauvreté
  • Famille
  • Méthodes qualitatives
  • Evaluations.