The theoretical model underlying the LifE study can be described as a resource model of coping with life. This framework combines the dynamics of changing environmental conditions and resource situations with action based theoretical studies of biographical development.
Within this model, it is assumed that productive coping with life is the result of complex decision-making processes, in which young people and adults actively try to exploit their life potentials and to optimize life management against the background of historically and socially given opportunities as well as their specific personal and social resources. Individual actions and decisions thereby always impact the actors themselves, as they influence their psychosocial development and structure their further life. This results in continuity as well as discontinuity in mental functioning, trusting in one’s own forces and the social environment, as well as in the willingness to invest in occupational and social tasks. The confrontation of the acting person with its environment and with the requirements to be met at every stage of life is expressed in the alteration or stabilization of personality traits as well as in the event history or life course history with its characteristic transitions.
The research field opening up to this model is interdisciplinary manageable only. In addition to a detailed sociological analysis of contexts and social assignment processes, it also requires a developmental, psychological, and pedagogical approach inspired by personality dynamics and the idea of socialization. The LifE study tries to meet this challenging task through the collaboration of researchers from pedagogy, psychology and sociology.