Linked Lives: A mixed multilevel longitudinal approach to family life course
The life course perspective combines a rigorous, critical and systematic yet flexible theoretical approach to core sociological issues with methodological and epistemological eclectic nature and potential. Aiming to build bridges between past and future Life Course Research, this project tackles one appraised but underexplored principle, the "linked lives" principle, based on which "each generation is bound to fateful decisions and events in the other's life course". This will allow us to tackle family as a microcosms of inequalities, and as an observatory of interdependency and cross-effects of life events. Using a multi-dimensional logic, this project will ask different but interconnected questions concerning the interdependency of life events across an individual's life (including various spheres of life) and within the family (as a whole individually through some of its members), by developing different methodologies. A quantitative approach, based on the EU-SILC both multilevel and longitudinal data, aims to tackle cross-effects between family, work and wellbeing, both at an European and at the National Portuguese level. This European, macro and comparative level analysis, also provides relevant information about the specificity, or lack thereof, of the Portuguese case, which is useful for the subsequent and at a certain points overlapped qualitative components of the research. A qualitative approach, using primary sources of data (80 to 100 interviewees), intends to put the flesh onto the bones of the understanding of the linkages between certain life events in one or more life courses, by accessing the subjectivities and intentionality of the actions, and also the effects experienced. Biographical interviews will be carried out with life calendars and family trees, which will be subject to content analysis and holistic form analysis. Quantitative longitudinal analysis will also be used for life calendar information. This will be done at both individual and family levels. This information will updated through a follow up study carried out 2 years after the initial collection to explore what has changed both factually and subjectively in the interdependencies of events within the family, and across time. The fact that individual lives are linked, that there is an interdependency also between different spheres of life, makes this research particularly useful for non-academic audiences, namely for the policy makers and practitioners involved in cross-sectoral policies involving family, work and wellbeing. The impact of the project is made through a busy channel of communication with relevant governmental and non-governmental institutions, via the project website, newsletters and policy briefs frequently uploaded and sent to an extensive mailing list.