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Research projects
SPReW - Generational approach to the social patterns of relation to work - for the Programme "Citizens and governance in the knowledge-based society", under the sixth European framework programme of R&D (2006-2008)

Welcome on the web page of SPReW,
updated 7 June 2010

Cette page existe aussi en version française.

In memoriam

Rainer Zoll died in May 2010. He was the SPReW coordinator for the German team. Through two years of collaboration, all the SPReW partners appreciated his acute scientific contribution to the project and his friendliness in informal time. We share the sorrow of his family and friends and particularly, Elisabeth, his wife, who actively shared the project with us. We want to pay him a tribute through this web site. He remains an inspiration to all of us.

Project outcomes

Book published

SPReW Book

Patricia Vendramin (ed.)
Generations at work and social cohesion in Europe

P.I.E. Peter Lang, Brussels, 2010 (324 pp.)
Work & Sociey Series, No. 68
ISBN 978-90-5201-647-4
Price: 35.50 €
Presentation and order form downloadable (PDF)

Publication drawn from the results of the SPReW project

Project summary

The European project SPReW analyses the intergenerational dimensions of changes in the relation to work. Understanding these changes has both a scientific and a pragmatic relevance. Types of relation to work shape a vision of work, expectations towards work, a vision of careers and management, a relation to knowledge and learning, and specific expectations towards public policies.

SPReW is a research project funded under the 6th framework programme of the European Union, within priority 7 (Citizens and governance in the knowledge-based society). It is a two-years project (June 2006 - August 2008). The consortium involves researchers from six countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal) and stakeholders (French Ministry of Labour; Social Development Agency of the European Trade Union Confederation).

The SPReW research confirms the diversification of patterns of relation to work and the trend towards increased “reflexive” expectations regarding work. It also demonstrates that age is not the foremost variable that shapes these patterns; gender and education appears also as key variables.

The research also highlights the role of institutional factors (education system, the family, the labour market regulation, the welfare state model, the type of capitalism) in drawing boundaries among age groups. With few differences among countries, the consortium identifies three generations of workers which are diversely positioned on the labour market and which also show different cultures and expectations towards work. Young people (< 30) are more exposed to precariousness and unemployment but they benefit from positive educational and digital differential; they ask for more social protection and higher income but also for more freedom and opportunities of self-development. The adult generation (30 to 50) usually enjoys a stable position in the labour market but it is more exposed to the difficulties related with keeping together career expectations and family care; this generation asks for social and company support to better reconcile work and family but also for life-long learning measures in ageing-worker’s perspective. The elder generation (> 50) – when they are still at work – enjoy the best wages and security and the highest representation by trade unions but they are the most exposed in case of company restructuring because of deskilling; they ask for recognition of experience but also for the removal of constraints in working conditions.

A general conclusion is that despite objectives differences, a “perception” of conflict among generations does not really emerge. Nevertheless, we should consider the possibility that more awareness of generations may initiate social tensions in the future. The different generations have to share labour market opportunities with former generations; there will necessarily be losers and winners. There is a specific balance of weakness and strength for all generations and objective critical aspects are present for each group.

In such a context, intergenerational relations are becoming a key issue for social cohesion, for the integration of all generations in the workplace but also, for employers and employees, to take benefits from age diversity. However, to a certain extent, there is a gap between institutional and managerial practices and the evidence resulting from the empirical investigation conducted in the six countries covered by the SPReW project.

Downloadable documents

Printable list of downloadable reports and documents (PDF)

Research reports

Deliverable 11
Changing social patterns of relation to work - Final synthesis report
Edited by Patricia Vendramin (FTU)
October 2008 , 180 pp. (active PDF document)

This report gives an overview of all key research activities, findings and conclusions of the project. The first chapter summarises the main topics of the state of the art of current research. The second chapter describes the methodological design of the project. The third chapter proposes a synthesis of the qualitative approach, as well as the fourth a synthesis of the quantitative approach. The fifth chapter summarises the results of the cross-national comparative analysis, stressing both European convergence and national diversity. Chapter 6 gives an overview and appraisal of relevant policy practices. The report ends up with conclusions and recommendations, presented as concrete perspectives for a good management of generations at work and pathways for more social cohesion.

Vendramin Patricia (editor, FTU), Belit Saka (IAW), Bureau Marie-Christine (CEE), Carvalho Sandra (CIS), Castro Paula (CIS), Cultiaux John (FTU), Damhuis Lotte (FTU), Davoine Lucie (CEE), Delay Béatrice (CEE), Franco Maria Teresa (FRPS), Füleki Katalin (MTA-PTI), Greco Sylvana (FRPS), Grützmacher Nicole (IAW), Lebano Adele (FRPS), Méda Dominique (CEE), Monaco Marina (SDA), Nogal A. (CIS), Passos Ana (CIS), Polyacskó Orsolya (MTA-PTI), Ponzellini Anna Maria (FRPS), Richter Götz (IAW), Soares Celia (CIS), Vajda Júlia (MTA-PTI), Valenduc Gérard (FTU), Wang Michal (CEE), Zoll-Grubert Elisabeth (IAW).

Executive summary
Changing social patterns of relation to work - Executive summary
October 2008 , 20 pp. (PDF document)

A concise overview of the main findings and conclusions of the research project, in twenty pages. Targeted to researchers, policy makers, HR managers, social partners, and other concerned stakeholders.

Deliverable 7
Changing social patterns of relation to work - Conclusions and recommendations
Anna Ponzellini, Adele Lebano (FRPS)
August 2008, 32 pp. (PDF document, 332 ko)

On the basis of the results of the empirical phase and the cross-national comparative analysis, pathways and recommendations are elaborated for a better management of age and intergenerational relations in the area of work and correlated fields. These recommendations and pathways have been discussed in dialogue workshops with policy makers and social actors at national level in each country and at the European level.

Deliverable 6
Changing social patterns of relation to work - Cross-national comparative analysis
Anna Ponzellini, Adele Lebano (FRPS)
June 2008, 36 pp. (PDF document, 332 ko)

This report establishes links between the interpretation of the qualitative and quantitative empirical results and the diversity of institutional frameworks in the different countries. It is structured in four parts. The first part identifies the theoretical approach we choose to explain the differences in intergenerational changes in relation to work and the related consequences. The second part analyses distinctiveness and similarities among institutional and cultural frameworks in the six countries along the lines of the seven elements we identified as the main objects of the comparison. The third part provides an overview of the different institutional and cultural contexts and the fourth and final part draws some general conclusions.

Deliverable 1
Generational approach to the social patterns of relation to work
Conceptual framework and state of the art

Edited by Patricia Vendramin (FTU)
January 2007 , 164 pp. (active PDF document)

Cover firts SPReW report

SPReW Report (Deliverable 1)

Generational approach to the social patterns of relation to work

Edited by Patricia Vendramin
Contributions from Bureau Marie-Christine, Castro Paula, Cultiaux John, Davoine Lucie, Delay Béatrice, Füleki Katalin, Grützmacher Nicole, Knop Alexander, Méda Dominique, Nogal Ângela, Passos Ana, Polyacskó Orsolya, Ponzellini Anna Maria, Richter Götz, Vajda Júlia, Valenduc Gérard, Vendramin Patricia, Wong Michal, Zoll Rainer, Zoll-Grubert Elisabeth

Series “EU research on social sciences and humanities”
EUR 22702ISBN 978-92-79-04874-6
European Commission, Brussels, 2007
Paper version on request by e-mail

General bibliography
November 2006, 32 pp. (PDF document)

Deliverable 2
Research hypotheses
Edited by Götz Richter, Rainer Zoll, Elisabeth Zoll-Grubert (IAW), Patricia Vendramin (FTU)
November 2006, 35 pp. (PDF document)

Deliverable 3
Changing social patterns of relation to work - Qualitative approach through biographies and group interviews
Edited by Patricia Vendramin (FTU)
January 2008, 332 pp. (PDF document, 1.3 Mo)

This report gathers the analyses that have been conducted in each country in a common qualitative approach, consisting in a total of 163 narrative interviews and 18 group interviews. A common methodological design supports this in-depth empirical study. The first chapter proposes a synthesis overview of all contributions. The report provides a renewed perspective on the meaning of work for different generations.

Vendramin Patricia (editor, FTU, Belgium), Bureau Marie-Christine (CEE, France), Castro Paula (CIS, Portugal), Cultiaux John (FTU, Belgium), Davoine Lucie (CEE, France), Delay Béatrice (CEE, France), Füleki Katalin (MTA-PTI, Hungary), Greco Sylvana (FRPS, Italy), Lebano Adele (FRPS, Italy), Méda Dominique (CEE, France), Polyacskó Orsolya (MTA-PTI, Hungary), Soares Celia (CIS, Portugal), Ponzellini Anna M. (FRPS, Italy), Richter Götz (IAW, Germany), Vajda Júlia (MTA-PTI, Hungary), Zoll Rainer (IAW, Germany), Zoll-Grubert Elisabeth (IAW, Germany).

Deliverable 4
Changing social patterns of relation to work - Overview and apparaisal of existing quantitative surveys
Edited by Patricia Vendramin (FTU)
March 2008, 268 pp. (PDF document, 995 ko)

This report consists of an overview of relevant quantitative surveys conducted at the national or regional level in all the countries included in the partnership. It also gives an overview of quantitative survey schemes conducted at the European and international levels. It provides a transversal overview of all the surveys inventoried and points out interesting conclusions regarding the SPReW issues. In addition, this report gathers some quantitative data about each country that support a good understanding of the results of the quantitative and qualitative workpackages.

Vendramin Patricia (editor, FTU, Belgium), Belit Saka (IAW, Germany), Carvalho Sandra (CIS, Portugal), Cultiaux John (FTU, Belgium), Damhuis Lotte (FTU, Belgium), Davoine Lucie (CEE, France), Delay Béatrice (CEE, France), Franco Maria Teresa (FRPS, Italy), Füleki Katalin (MTA-PTI, Hungary), Méda Dominique (CEE, France), Passos Ana (CIS, Portugal), Polyacskó Orsolya (MTA-PTI, Hungary), Ponzellini Anna M. (FRPS, Italy), Richter Götz (IAW, Germany), Vajda Júlia (MTA-PTI, Hungary), Valenduc Gérard (FTU, Belgium), Zoll-Grubert Elisabeth (IAW, Germany).

Deliverable 5
Changing social patterns of relation to work - Selection of good policy practices
Edited by Marina Monaco (SDA)
March 2008, 174 pp. (PDF document, 611 ko)

This report proposes a collection of policy practices in the field of youth, employment and ageing policies that have an intergenerational perspective and that can be learning experiences. The purpose of this report is to support the transition between research results and policymaking. This overview of policy practices and orientations has been made at the national and the European levels. The first part of the report deals with experiences at the national level, the second part analyses policies at the European level.

Monaco Marina (editor, SDA), Carvalho Sandra (CIS, Portugal), Cultiaux John (FTU, Belgium), Damhuis Lotte (FTU, Belgium), Davoine Lucie (CEE, France), Delay Béatrice (CEE, France), Füleki Katalin (MTA-PTI, Hungary), Greco Silvana (FRPS, Italy), Méda Dominique (CEE, France), Passos Ana (CIS, Portugal), Polyacskó Orsolya (MTA-PTI, Hungary), Richter Götz (IAW, Germany), Vajda Júlia (MTA-PTI, Hungary), Valenduc Gérard (FTU, Belgium), Vendramin Patricia (FTU, Belgium), Zoll-Grubert Elisabeth (IAW, Germany).

Briefing papers and policy brief

Policy brief, September 2008: Changing patterns of relation to work and policy challenges for intergenerational cohesion (downloadable PDF)

Briefing paper n°5, September 2008: final deliverables (downloadable PDF)

Briefing paper n°4, January 2008: first findings of qualitative research (downloadable PDF)

Briefing paper n°3, June 2007: work progress in qualitative research (downloadable PDF)

Briefing paper n°2, November 2006: presentation of intermediate research results
(downloadable PDF)

Briefing paper n°1, June 2006: project presentation (downloadable PDF)

Other downloadable publications

Under this heading we present a series of articles written by SPReW research teams in order to disseminate the project results at national or international level. Some documents may be in their national language.

Documents of the European conference "Generations at work"
Friday 16 May 2008 in Brussels

Conference Generations at work

The European conference and dialogue workshop was held in Brussels on Friday 16 May 2008. The attendance of about 110 persons gathered participants from universities, public authorities, business organisations, trade unions, and social associations. Conclusions and recommendations of the research were discussed in round tables.

Before the European conference, dialogue workshops were organised in the six participating countries, in order to discuss draft conclusions and recommendations. They gathered in total about 135 participants, representing all concernd stakeholders.

The programme folder of the European conference is downloadable in PDF format. Presentations of the speakers can be downloaded here (PPT presentations in printable PDF format).

Introduction to the conference and presentation of the SPReW research
            Patricia Vendramin, Fondation Travail-Université, Belgium

Changes in the relation to work
            Béatrice Delay, Dominique Méda, Centre d’Etude de l’Emploi, France

Generations at work  : areas of solidarity and tensions
            Patricia Vendramin, Fondation Travail-Université, Belgium

Round table: societal relevance of the SPReW results
            Chair: Paula Castro, Centro de Investigaçao e de Intervençao Social, Portugal
            Julian Bir, Youth Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation
            Frédéric Lerais, member of the Bureau of European Policy Advisors (BEPA), European Commission
            Stefan Müller, Assistant of Works Council at ZF AG, Germany
            Julia Vajda, Institute of political sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Issues and challenges for generations at work: a vision from outside Europe
            Madeleine Gauthier, Observatory Youth and Society, Québec

Perspectives for a good management of generations at work
            Anna Ponzellini, Adele Lebano, Fondazione Regionale Pietro Seveso, Italy

Round table: practical implications of the SPReW results
            Chair: Götz Richter, University of Bremen, Germany
            Gaëlle Demez, French-speaking Youth Council, Belgium
            Anne Himpens, Fund for professional experience, Belgium
            Marina Monaco , Social Development Agency - European Trade Union Confederation
            Christiane Westphal, DG Employment, social affairs and equal opportunities, EC

Closing speech
            Marc Goffart, DG Research, European Commission - Science, economy and society

Project partners SPReW

Project co-ordinator

Fondation Travail-Université (FTU)
Work & Technology Research Centre
Rue de l'arsenal 5, B-5000 Namur, BELGIUM
Project co-ordinator: Patricia Vendramin (
Other researchers: John Cultiaux, Lotte Damhuis, Gérard Valenduc

Project partners

Centre for Social Research and Intervention (CIS) - ISCTE Lisbon
Av. Forças Armadas, P-1649 Lisboa 026, PORTUGAL
Project manager: Paula Castro (
Other researchers: Ana Passos, Angela Nogal, Sandra Carvalho, Celia Soares

Fondazione Pietro Seveso (FRPS)
Viale Fulvio Testi, 42 – I-20099 Sesto San Giovanni, ITALY
Project manager : Anna Maria Ponzellini (
Other researchers: Adele Lebano, Silvana Greco, Maria Teresa Franco

Institut Arbeit und Wirtschaft (IAW), University of Bremen
Parkhallee, 39 – D-28209 Bremen, phone +49-421-2183472
Project manager: Götz Richter (
Other researchers: Rainer Zoll, Nicole Grützmacher, Elisabeth Zoll-Grubert, Saka Belit

Centre for European Employment Studies, Institute for Political Science of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA PTI), Budapest
Orszàghàz u. 30, H-1014 Budapest, Hungary
Project manager: Julia Vajda (
Other researchers: Katalin Füleki, Orsolya Polyacskó

Social Development Agency (SDA), Agency of the European Trade Union Confederation
Boulevard du Roi Albert II, 5 – B- 1210 Brussels
Project manager: Claudio Stanzani (
Other researcher: Marina Monaco

Direction de l’Animation de la Recherche, des Etudes et des Statistiques (DARES),
Ministère de l’emploi, du travail et de la cohesion sociale, Paris
Quai André Citroën, 39-43 – F-75015 Paris
Project manager: Hélène Garner (

Centre d’Etude de l’Emploi (CEE), Paris
Le Descartes 1, 29, promenade Michel Simon, F-93166 Noisy le Grand Cedex
Project manager: Dominique Méda (
Other researchers: Marie-Christine Bureau, Lucie Davoine, Béatrice Delay, Michal Wong

Photo SPReW research team

Consortium meeting in October 2006 in Paris. From left to right: Orsolya Polyacskó (MTA-PTI), John Cultiaux (FTU), Katalin Füleki (MTA-PTI), Götz Richter (IAW), Michal Wong (CEE), Julia Vajda (MTA-PTI), Alex Knop (IAW), Cinzia Sechi (SDA), Béatrice Delay (CEE), Patricia Vendramin (FTU), Dominique Méda (CEE), Gérard Valenduc (FTU), Lucie Davoine (CEE), Adele Lebano (FRPS), Paula Castro (CIS), Hélène Garner (DARES).

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