1. First, list your current professional title. Second, describe your background, experience, and research as it relates to Quality-of-life studies. Feel free to describe this in detail.
Lihi Lahat is a senior lecturer in the Department of Administration & Public Policy at Sapir Academic College, Israel and Affiliate Associate Professor, Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies, Concordia University, Montreal.
I am a board member at the Israeli branch of Esapnet, a member at the Taub Centre for Social Policy in Israel, and a public representative on the Social Work Council advising the Israeli Minister of Labor, Social Affairs, and Social Services.
I completed my Ph.D. at Tel-Aviv University in the Department of Public Policy. My dissertation dealt with policy-makers’ perceptions of the causes of poverty and the ways to alleviate poverty. As a researcher in public policy and public administration, my goal is to better understand how governments work and how this affects our lives and well-being. My research orientation is nested in the neo-institutional approach, and I find myself drawn to comparative and multi-disciplinary perspectives. Broadly stated, my research has five themes: 1) policymakers' perceptions; 2) regulation of social services; 3) public sector employees' well-being; 4) collaborative governance; and 5) institutional arrangements, uses of time, and well-being.
Today, my main field of interest is the study of the connection between policies, uses of time and well-being. Together with Professor Sened, I have been exploring this subject. In one project, we took a comparative look at the connection between the uses of time and their effects on well-being. A paper based on a multi-level analysis of data from 34 European countries was published in European Journal of Social Policy. Another project, funded by the Social Insurance Research Foundation, explored the connections between the uses of time, the way people want to use their time, and policy perceptions. The study was based on a survey of the Israeli adult population. Its findings contribute to the development of the theoretical literature on behavioral aspects and feedback mechanisms in public policies.
Another topic of interest is public sector employees’ well-being from a comparative perspective. A study I conducted with Dr. Dganit Ofek, recently published in Review of Public Personnel Administration, explored factors affecting the emotional well-being of public sector employees in seven countries with diverse administrative cultures: Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Spain, France, and Italy. The findings revealed that the country context and work surroundings were more influential than the fact of belonging to the public sector. It also revealed the administrative culture affects the diversity between countries.
In the future, I hope to continue my study of the interplay between policies, uses of time, and well-being and to develop an understanding of the effect of policies on well-being.
2. What initially attracted you to the field of quality-of-life studies?
In many respects, the goal of policies is to improve people's quality of life. However, that is not always the case. I am drawn to questions that connect the effect of policies on well-being. I find it essential to embrace an interdisciplinary and comparative view to answer the big questions on how the government can improve people's lives and to avoid creating policies that might harm quality of life. For example, while policies in one field might improve the participation of people at work, if policies in the field of education and care do not support these efforts, it might create problematic social outcomes harming other populations. The field of quality-of-life studies calls for disciplinary convergence and enables me as a researcher to learn more about the accumulative effects of various aspects that may benefit well-being.
3. What are some areas of quality-of-life studies you feel are lacking attention? Any advice for future QoL researchers?
While most quality-of-life studies include policy implications, and applied research is a cornerstone of the field, I feel that more collaboration between public administration and public policy researchers and quality-of-life researchers is needed. This collaboration can help assimilate research findings into real life. For example, the question of how to alleviate the high level of poverty in Israel (around 20% of the population is under the poverty line) is not just a question of policy tools. It is also a question of the ways policymakers perceive the poor and the causes of poverty. Assimilating knowledge on poverty, creating an advocacy coalition, and involving policy entrepreneurs might bring about change and diminish the gaps between populations. Thus, an interesting question is not just what to do to better people's quality of life but how to incorporate it and what can be done to promote it from a policy perspective.
4. How long have you been a member of ISQOLS? Why did you choose to be a member of ISQOLS? How has your involvement in ISQOLS impacted your career/research/advancement in your knowledge of QoL studies?
I am a relatively new member of ISQOLS. I started my membership in 2017 when I participated in the 15th ISQOLS Conference in Innsbruck. By presenting an early version of our paper, my colleague and I received feedback that helped improve our work. I enjoyed hearing and learning from those in other fields of study, and I took great pleasure in meeting researchers from around the world. I keep in touch with some of them, and they help me develop my field of interest. Compared to big conferences in public policy and public administration, the ISQOLS conferences are friendly and enable connections. I also enjoyed the methodological knowledge I was exposed to in the conferences. For example, I am interested in analysing well-being based on social networks content analysis, and I had an opportunity to learn more about it in the last virtual conference. Finally, I have been able to show my work through ISQOLS blogs, thus reaching a wider audience.
5. Feel free to include any other important comments or things you'd like to share with the ISQOLS community.
Thank you for this great community, with special thanks to our great executive director Jill Johnson for her efforts. The ISQOLS community is an excellent arena for me to develop my research interests. I hope we will have an opportunity to meet again soon. And I hope everyone meets these challenging times with ease, health, and well-being.
The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS)