The aim of KASS is to investigate the role of family networks assources of security and mutual assistance. The state and the family(including the whole network of relatives) are the two largestproviders of social security in modern Europe. Like the state, thefamily provides care, education, financial support, and help in findingemployment. It also influences (and occasionally controls) choicesinvolving career and marriage. However, the role of the family is notconstant over time and space. We know, from statistical sources andsociological and ethnographic studies, that it varies greatly betweendifferent parts of contemporary Europe. Changing patterns of marriage,cohabitation and divorce, declining fertility and aging populationsalso have implications for the family s role in social security.Although the role of kinship in social security has importantimplications for state and EU policies on social security, genderdiscrimination and social exclusion, it remains relatively littleunderstood - despite challenging contributions in recent decades fromanthropology, economics, and evolutionary theory. One reason is thatconventional data sources such as censuses and surveys do not collectthe full range of data needed to evaluate these theoreticaldevelopments. The only sort of data that is capable of capturing enoughfactual details about kinship networks, while also investigating theway these relationships are actually experienced, is ethnographicfieldwork. A central idea of this project is to use ethnographicmethods, followed by both interpretative and mathematical analyses ofthe resulting data, to illuminate the questions above. Another centralidea is that current trends need to be understood in their historicalcontext. The fieldwork studies will be carried out in eight Europeancountries and placed in context by historical reviews of thedevelopment of family systems and state social security.