This article investigates the strategies to improve the quality of life of households in precarious prosperity in urban contexts of Romania and Switzerland – two countries who are characterised by strong structural and political differences and dissimilar living conditions. The paper advances qualitative research on the topic, which is still scarce. Quality of life is approached according to the definition of Zapf and the empirical analysis is based on the concept of social bonds of Paugam. The authors undertook a longitudinal analysis on several interview waves in order to shed light on the role of the welfare state, the labour market, the family and the community for the households’ quality of life. The Swiss households perceive a greater scope of agency than the Romanian households, which depend mainly on the labour market and their family. Strategies of adaptation come to the fore in both countries, when an active modification of the living conditions is not perceived as possible. This new element goes beyond the Paugam’s concept of social bonds and allows for understanding where new social policy is needed: in the adapted cases, the welfare state and communities could actually play an active role to improve the households’ quality of life.
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