Eric D. Widmer

Widmer,E. and Kellerhals,J. and Levy,R. (2005).What pluralization of the life course? An analysis of personal trajectories and conjugal interactions in contemporary Switzerland In: Kriesi, H. P., Farago P., Kohli M., Zarin-Nejadan M.(Eds). Contemporary Switzerland: Revisiting the Special Case. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 38-60.



Sociological research has underscored trends towards a pluralization of social life in general and, more specifically, of family and work. These two central subsystems of modern societies are hypothesized by some to have become much more heterogeneous in recent years than they ever were before; they are said to follow less recognizable patterns or models, either because of the weakening of social norms or because of the increasing structural complexity of contemporary societies. This chapter addresses the issue of the pluralization of the life course by focusing on personal trajectories (between professional and family activities) and family functioning of contemporary couples1, based on the sample of the project entitled “Social stratification, cohesion and conflict in contemporary families”. Does the highly post-industrialized context of Switzerland confirm the hypothesis that late modernity is associated with a strong diversification of work and the family and a weakening of their being socially structured? We shall see that although variability does indeed characterize personal trajectories and family functioning in Switzerland, it is rather bounded and quite strongly embedded in social structures.

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