EU Project KASS

KASS is an interdisciplinary project. The following paragraphs from the research proposal give an idea of how it brings together my social anthropological and statistical interests in a research project that has both theoretical and policy implications.

“The state and the family (including the whole network of relatives) are the two greatest providers of social security in modern Europe. Like the state, the family provides care, education, financial support, and help in finding employment. It also influences (and occasionally controls) choices involving career and marriage. However the role of the family is not constant over time and space. We know, from statistical sources and from sociological and ethnographic studies, that it varies greatly between different parts of contemporary Europe. Changing patterns of marriage, cohabitation and divorce, declining fertility and aging populations, also have implications for the family’s social security role.

“Though the role of kinship in social security has important implications for state and EU policy on social security, gender discrimination and social exclusion, it remains relatively little understood – despite challenging contributions in recent decades from anthropology, economics and evolutionary theory. One reason for this is that conventional data sources such as census and surveys do not collect the full range of data needed to evaluate these theoretical developments.
“The only sort of data that is capable of capturing enough factual detail about kinship networks, while also investigating the way these relationships are actually experienced, is ethnographic fieldwork. One of the central ideas of this proposal is to use ethnographic methods, followed by both interpretative and mathematical analyses of the resulting data to illuminate the questions above. The second central idea is that current trends need to be understood in their historical context. The fieldwork studies will be carried out in eight European countries and will be placed in context by reviews of existing knowledge of the current social security role of kinship ties, and of the historical background. The implications for policy will be examined in the final part of the project.”

KASS is now nearing completion. For information about the work done, and discussions of outline findings see

For further details see KASS website Kinship and Social Security in Europe

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