Browsing by Subject "neoliberalism"

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  • Elomäki, Anna; Kantola, Johanna; Koivunen, Anu; Ylöstalo, Hanna (2019)
    This article explores the possibilities and constraints for feminist knowledge production and diffusion, and its influence over policy making and public debate in the context of austerity and neoliberal governance. By analysing the process in which a group of Finnish academic feminists used their expert position to influence government policy in 2015–2017, the article illustrates the strategies they adopted to engage in political debates and how they negotiated the new political landscape. The research material was derived from two years of action research and participant observation and is considered through the theoretical lens of governance feminism. The article makes a distinctive contribution to extant theories of governance feminism, by drawing upon theories of affects and ambivalence as a complement to governance feminism's focus on discourses and co‐optation. We coin the term affective virtuosity to highlight the importance of affect in feminist knowledge production and diffusion, and in shaping the various perspectives available to feminist scholars in encounters with politicians and policymakers.
  • Keskinen, Suvi (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)
    Gender and Politics
    The chapter analyses the establishment and expansion of antiracist feminism in the last decade throughout the Nordic region, with new groups, media sites, and public events organised, especially in the large cities. Keskinen examines antiracist feminist and queer of colour activism in which the main or sole actors belong to groups racialised as non-white or ‘others’ in Nordic societies. A fundamental argument developed in the chapter is the central role and potential of these emerging social movements in the reconfiguring of political agendas and tackling pressing societal issues, due to its capacity to overlap and connect the borders of antiracist, feminist, and (to some extent) class-based politics. The chapter further argues for the usefulness of theorising the neoliberal turn of racial capitalism as the societal condition in which feminist activism takes place.
  • Tuunanen, Tuukka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    This thesis is about the sociocultural phenomenon of start-up entrepreneurship. Contemporary society is home to a growing obsession towards entrepreneurship, with entrepreneurial action regarded as a possible solution to a wide spectrum of social problems. Entrepreneurial action and the acquiring of an entrepreneurial way of thinking and operating is widely considered to contribute to the common good, in reality having potential for a positive impact on society. Hence entrepreneurship is promoted in social policy and education in an effort to educate citizens towards entrepreneurial agency. All in all, an interesting shift is happening with entrepreneurs positioning themselves as producers of the common good ”making the world a better place one pizza at a time”, while farmers traditionally identifying as ”producers” are becoming more ”entrepreneurial”. Entrepreneurial agency as a new form of agency suitable for any individual in almost any field of action originates from the neoliberal discourse and the emphasis on individual freedom and entrepreneurialism. Like Margaret Thatcher famously stated, ”there is no society, there are individual men and women”. This highly individualistic approach to the reorganisation of society and the reinforcement or restoration of the class dominance of a small global elite was voiced as an alleged antidote to the perils of socialism, and culturally connected to the positive ideals of the entrepreneur as a free, self-reliable, innovative and efficient individual. This was the neoliberal re-invention of the entrepreneur that transformed the idea of the entrepreneur as primarily a business operator to that of the morally worthy individual simply doing the right thing. The fruits of the labour would then trickle-down as collectively beneficiary. This thesis is an ethnographic study on start-up entrepreneurs in the Greater Helsinki start-up ecosystem working to promote their companies. Through interviews and observational data, this thesis studies the start-up entrepreneur as the epitome of this contemporary entrepreneurial agency. Start-up entrepreneurship sometimes referred to as ”entrepreneurialism on steroids”, is a form of often tech-related entrepreneurialism aimed at fast growth with the help of investments - a sort of ”rags to riches” narrative. But the work is demanding with statistically most start-up companies destined to fail, with a very small percentage becoming successful in finding markets, growing and returning the investments while providing lucrative ”exits” for the founders. Utilising positioning theory this thesis focuses on three themes related to start-up entrepreneurs: their identifications and boundary work in separating them as a specific social group, the outspoken motivations behind their actions and the troubles that arise from their endeavours. Through dress code, speech norms and the acceptance of the Weberian idea of the entrepreneur as ”a special actor” and capable problem-solver, the identity of the start-up entrepreneur is constructed and ritualistically verified in events like SLUSH. The origins of the neoliberal discourse are interestingly present in these motivations, with a majority of the interviewees emphasizing the altruistic side of their social entrepreneurialism and the importance of freedom in life. They are free to achieve. But on the other hand, the possibility of unimaginable financial gain brings certain ambiguity to the situation. In the words of one interviewee: ”Anyone who says they don´t dream of getting rich in a start-up company is lying.” Finally, among all the positive hype that surrounds successful start-up companies and entrepreneurship partly due to the way they are portrayed in the media, there are problems ahead for many. Stress and financial troubles combined with the shame and possible debt resulting from going bankrupt manifest themselves as severe physical symptoms, mental health problems, insomnia and burnout. This can in turn have a dramatic impact in dictating the lives of the start-up entrepreneurs. Following the ideas of critical entrepreneurship studies and contributing to the lack of research on the topic, this thesis suggests that due to the influence of the neoliberal discourse on the way entrepreneurship is framed and celebrated as well as the severity of the resulting problems for many, there should be a more critical and analytical approach to the seemingly value-free promotion of entrepreneurship. It is necessary to ask whose interests are actually getting promoted through increased entrepreneurial agency, and whether the alleged promotion of common good is in fact contributing to any issues other than the convenience of the every-day lives of the middle-class.
  • Wallgren, Thomas (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2013)
    COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 14
    A Nordic proverb tells us that a prudent man does not make the goat his gardener. But that is exactly what we have done. In the garden of Europe we have handed over power to the goat of transnational companies and banks and to democratically weakly accountable bureaucrats. The harvest we have reaped is the euro-crisis. I will first present the basic features of what I consider to be the standard view of the political situation in Europe. In the discussion that follows I will try to show that the standard view has made us complicit in empowering the goat. When we see this clearly – what has happened and why it has happened – it will also be relatively easy to agree on responses to the crisis. But clarity of vision is, as we shall see, in this case somewhat hard to attain.
  • Ojala, Markus (2021)
    This article proposes a critical reading of market discipline and its limitations as a mechanism in European economic governance. Consistent with neoliberal beliefs about market-based governance, the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is premised on the functioning of the government bond market as a fiscal-policy discipliner. However, the operation of market discipline requires that neither governments nor their private creditors can rely on an authority to bail them out. It, therefore, precludes the kinds of intervention by Eurozone’s supranational institutions witnessed during the euro crisis. In the post-crisis context, efforts to strengthen market discipline continue to be frustrated by the growing reliance of financial institutions on government bond markets as well as the European Central Bank’s (ECB) active participation in those markets. Having undermined the credibility of the market as an autonomous and apolitical mechanism of discipline, European economic governance struggles to come to terms with the rise of a supranational ‘economic sovereign’ in the Eurozone.
  • Nilsson, Eva (2008)
    Denna pro gradu -avhandlings främsta målsättning är att analysera och förklara förhållandet mellan två centrala utvecklingsparadigm - det neoliberala och mänskliga paradigmet. Analysen baserar sig på en fallstudie av FN:s Millenniemål i Tanzania. Millenniemålen är ett konkret resultat av det mänskliga utvecklingsparadigmet och utgör därför ett intressant forskningsobjekt för denna studie. Utgångspunkten är att det neoliberala utvecklingsparadigmet har dominerat biståndssamarbetet sedan början av 1980-talet, men att det mänskliga paradigmet som varit dess alternativ, nu verkar ha tagit en starkare roll åtminstone i den offentliga debatten. Vilken roll dessa mål sedan fått i praktiskt biståndssamarbete på lokal nivå och huruvida det mänskliga utvecklingsparadigmet förstärkts genom att dessa mål har lanserats, är centrala frågor för denna studie. I denna avhandling utgår jag ifrån att de olika paradigmen och deras uppkomst baserar sig på historiska trender inom utvecklingsteorier. De neoliberala och mänskliga utvecklingsparadigmen är normativa paradigm som stöds av Världsbanken respektive FN. De är direkt kopplade till biståndssamarbetet, som är en normativ, politisk process. Analysen av dessa paradigms roller görs ur en neo-Gramsciansk referensram. Den neo-Gramscianska teorin om hegemoni ger analytiska redskap att förklara de maktrelationer som definierar paradigmens roller. Det neoliberala paradigmet representerar intellektuell hegemoni medan det mänskliga paradigmet utgör en mot-hegemonisk kraft till den. Avhandlingens främsta slutsats är att det mänskliga utvecklingsparadigmets roll är fortfarande svag jämfört med det neoliberala paradigmet. Jag hävdar att det neoliberala paradigmet har lyckats absorbera de centrala dragen av det mänskliga paradigmet för sin egen nytta. Detta innebär att FN och Millenniemålen inte idag representerar ett alternativ till neoliberal utveckling, utan legitimerar den i stället. Millenniemålens roll har förblivit främst retorisk, medan neoliberala reformer har fortskridit i Tanzania. När den offentliga diskussionen fokuserar sig på Millenniemålen, finns det en risk att biståndssamarbetes verkliga substans blir i skymundan. Samtidigt framstår FN:s roll i att skapa världsomfattande utvecklingsnormer som relativt svag. Avhandlingen är gjord med kvalitativa metoder. En central del av forskningsmaterialet består av intervjuer som gjorts i Tanzania under sommaren 2007. Förutom dessa intervjuer, har Tanzanias två fattigdomsstrategier (poverty reduction strategies) analyserats.
  • Brunila, Kristiina; Rossi, Leena-Maija (2018)
    In this article, identity politics is understood as a form of politics stressing collective but malleable group identities as the basis of political action. This notion of identity politics also allows thinking of identity as intersectional. The focus of this article, and a problem related to identity politics, is that when discussed in the context of the neoliberal order, identity politics has a tendency to become harnessed by the ethos of vulnerability. Some implications of the 'vulnerabilizisation' are considered in the field of education, which is a field currently thoroughly affected by neoliberalism. Therefore, it is also important to look closer at the relationship between identity politics and the ethos of vulnerability. In addition, we re-consider poststructuralist thinking as a theoretical and political approach to see what it can offer in terms of re-thinking identity politics and in analyzing the ethos of vulnerability. When categories of vulnerability keep expanding into various psycho-emotional vulnerabilities defining subjects that can be known and spoken about, it is crucial to ask whether we regard these changes as educationally and politically progressive. The article discusses some problematic policies in educational environments and the phenomenon of trigger warnings.
  • Bassett, Eli (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    The platform economy has emerged in the past two decades to become a remarkably profitable and increasingly global industry. The explosive growth of platform firms can be attributed to the outsourcing of almost all aspects of business operations to minimize costs. This is coupled by their motivation to grow rapidly to capture disproportionately large market shares. Consequently, platform firms have become global behemoths, and the labor which sustains their growth has come to be known as “gig work”, in which self-employed contractors work whenever they please, without the traditional protections provided to formal employees. The goal of this dissertation is to explain these mechanisms in relation to their potential impacts on income inequality. This dissertation tests two hypotheses: the outsourcing hypothesis and market concentration hypothesis. Each hypothesis proposes a causal chain whereby outsourcing and market concentration in the platform economy lead to disproportionate economic power and greater economic insecurity, and consequently links these outcomes to a double movement in the U.S. income distribution. Methodologically, this research employs contrastive comparisons, whereby exemplary platforms are compared with their traditional competitors, namely Uber with the taxi industry, Amazon with Walmart, and DoorDash with Domino’s Pizza. From these contrastive comparisons, evidence is gathered to demonstrate key differences between platforms and their traditional competitors. Additionally, this research is contextualized in terms of historical and ideological trends, particularly the gradual re-emergence of income inequality and the development of neoliberal hegemony. The findings demonstrate that through unique combinations of the hypothesized mechanisms, platform businesses do proliferate greater economic insecurity, and generate disproportionate economic power between platform providers and platform managers and owners. However, evidence directly linking these outcomes to downward or upward pulls in the U.S. income distribution remains inconclusive. That said, substantial evidence was found for the rejection of the outsourcing hypothesis. Evidently, given the complexity of social systems, the findings from this research may be inherently difficult to generalize on a global or systemic level. As such, I conclude that further research is necessary to draw more decisive and generalizable conclusions regarding the interplay between income inequality and the platform economy.
  • Nordberg, Camilla Christina (2015)
    In a time of welfare state restructuring, migrant background ‘stay-at-home’ mothers have become a politicised social category, constructed as unproductive and socially disengaged. The article examines the ways newly arrived women, who take care of children at home, enact and negotiate their own and their families’ early citizenisation process, with a particular focus on institutional encounters. Drawing on two case stories from the capital region of Finland, I discuss the dynamics of mothers’ claims-making for a transitionary citizenship, from the sphere of the home via social rights based public daycare to language training and education. I conclude that the constrained agency migrant mothers are subjected to, risks shaping a new gendered and racialised order of parenthood and ultimately of citizenship in the transforming welfare states.
  • Parman, Marlene (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Based on previous studies, neoliberal features have been observed in Finnish education policy. The government has made education-related reforms in recent years. My research examines the recent public debate surrounding education reforms in a neoliberal framework. I examine what themes, goals, rationales, and attitudes toward education reform are given in the public debate. I will try to find out how neoliberalism manifests itself in these debates. The aim of my dissertation is to bring out the public debate around education reforms and education policy. The study of the debate is intended to bring out different perspectives and voices, from education policy experts, academics, students, and individual citizens. I examine the manifestations of neoliberal education policy in the light of these debates. My research is a qualitative study. I search answers to two research questions. My data consists of articles. As a research method, I used content analysis. The data of my research consists of 51 articles by Helsingin Sanomat published in 2015–2019. Articles were analyzed by content analysis. Through content analysis, I found four different themes. I looked at the results in a neoliberal framework. The education reform debate revolved around student selection, industry changers, education cuts, and education policy. The debate around education reforms was controversial. On the one hand, education reforms were justified as profitable and good ideas, but on the other hand, they were criticized and questioned. Educational reforms raised concerns and appeared to pose threats to education and the scientific community, as well as to society. Based on the discussion, neoliberal features emerge in education reforms.
  • Etxabe, Julen (2020)
    In a 2006 article, Duncan Kennedy identifies politics as the central dilemma of contemporary legal thought, but affirms that law is non-reducible to politics, which could be read as a partial retraction from the known coda “law is politics.” This essay suggests an interpretation of his refusal to conflate law and politics not in terms of disavowal, or a way of distancing politics from law, but as an attempt to carve out a space from where to think of the relational aspect between law and politics. This becomes necessary due to a current phenomenon which Pierre Schlag calls “dedifferentiation,” where no distinction—and hence no relation—seems to be possible between law and other spheres of life. Opposing that conclusion, this article contends that engendering relations allows us to keep the terms connected in relative motion. The essay then moves to describe four distinct modes of framing the relation between law and politics, which gives rise to very different disciplinary projects: law as politics, dating back to the legal realist movement; law as political science, which finds its current expression in empirical and quantitative research; law as political philosophy, generated by a renewed interest in “the political”; and law as political contingent, growing out of a similar interest but challenging the boundary-setting ambitions of philosophy. While the latter has not yet been adequately translated into law, I suggest as an alternative the work of Jacques Rancière, which declines to grant an aura of invincible ubiquity to any totalizing description, including neoliberalism’s attempt to present itself as a world system.
  • Aunela, Hilja (Helsingfors universitet, 2017)
    This thesis is a study about Portuguese people who were learning mindfulness meditation in order to overcome stress. The primary question the thesis reflects on is: How do people attach value to what they are doing in situations where there is no clear set of criteria? The research is based on a 10-week ethnographic fieldwork which was conducted in Lisbon, Portugal during spring 2015. The data consists of material gathered by participant observation in two mindfulness meditation centers, combined with interviews and informal talks. By analyzing accounts of the research participants, the study identifies stress as an inherently social experience, and caused by an excess of work and a constant requirement to multitask. The study analyzes these notions by applying Marxist-influenced anthropological analyses of time and combines these with the anthropologist Marilyn Stathern’s (1992) concept of postpluralism. Building upon these theories, the study identifies stress which the research participants reported to be related to the logic of time within neoliberalism. The study observes that being mindful is experienced as a way to live with stressful situations, even though the practice does little to challenge the initial circumstances that caused the research participants feel stressed. Thus, the study suggests that mindfulness teaches the practitioners to recalibrate their values, offering the capacity to give less value to issues the practitioners found stressful. In this vein, mindfulness meditation is interpreted to respond to a particular Western problem in contrast to the Eastern (Buddhist) origins of the practice. The study however pays also attention to contradicting ideas of good life within the West, namely in gendered Portuguese expectations on how much time one should give for others in contrast to the individualistically oriented practice. Thus, the study highlights certain ambivalences present. On one hand, mindfulness responds to stress, as the practice helps keeping the contradictory logics of work and kinship separated. On the other hand, the practice is a retreat from the social and thus does not necessarily ease the initial problem the research participants had. As a conclusion, the study argues that the mindfulness practitioners feel the strain that neoliberal flexibility causes. It is however pointed out that people are not governed by the neoliberal logic and find ways to remove its logic from their own values.
  • Kaila, Eero (2007)
    This study examines the content of the term 'neoliberalism' and the possible ways to utilize it as a concept in the context of political philosophy. Neoliberalism is primarily an economic and a political doctrine, which is here presumed to represent the return of the ideas from the classical liberal period. Since the revival of political philosophy in the 1970's, neoliberalism can be seen to have developed philosophical content. However, any specific structure or a discipline, to which any writer would declare to belong to, has not formed yet. This has lead several commentators, such as Eerik Lagerspetz and Anna-Maria Blomgren, to recommend against using the concept as the field of study is still too fragmented. The process of study will advance following the structure of systematic analysis. Additionally some influences are taken from the hermeneutic tradition. The hermeneutic circle will provide an opportunity to examine a large subject matter with a relatively small amount of preliminary research. On a chapter-to-chapter basis the study will concentrate on an accurate systematic analysis of the concept. After an initial sketch of the concept is made, some philosophically inclined writers who are considered neoliberal are examined. In this case Friedrich August von Hayek, Robert Nozick and James M. Buchanan are presented. Essential concepts are selected from the most important political-philosophical texts of these writers. These concepts are then compared with each other in the systematic section. The following concepts are discussed here: the individual, liberty, rights, social justice and the state. The analysis at the end of this study will compile, on the grounds of the examined concepts and their relations with each other, two dominant varieties (deontological and consequentialist) of neoliberalism. The internal problems of these varieties and the similarity with the term 'libertarianism', which is already recognized in the discourse of political philosophy, lead to a concurring recommendation with the previous commentaries: the application of the concept 'neoliberalism' is not recommended due to poor quality of the theories within the field of study. The possibility to use 'neoliberalism' as an intermediatory category between liberalism and libertarianism is, however, not overruled. The prerequisite for this is that new forms of contemporary, extreme liberalism would be created, with preferably more argumentative force than the ones examined here. In the end, the philosophical examination of neoliberalism is deemed fruitful in the sense that the concept is located between the disciplines of economics and political philosophy. This implies the possible result of discovering new tools for the analysis of philosophical foundations of economic theory.
  • Grotke, Kelly (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2013)
    COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 14
    This paper addresses two issues in the area of accounting that I think are relevant to the present financial crisis and its aftermath. The first is the current “convergence project” whose goal is a single, unified set of accounting principles for for-profit, exchange-listed private business entities. This development deserves attention because it is widely unfamiliar to nonspecialists, but also because its genesis and development coincide with the ascendancy of post-WWII neoliberalism. Too, its full implementation would occasion major changes in the processes of measuring economic value. Its importance for what follows rests on the claims made by convergence advocates that this project will serve the public interest in its streamlining of private, for-profit accounting, a claim that certainly carries with it assumptions about an ideal equilibrium between public and private. My second focus will be on a 2006 White Paper from the US Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), which makes a strong argument for a distinction between public and private accounting practices. This document motivated my choice to go back to the 18th century for inspiration, since the White Paper struck me on first reading as the kind of document that prompts comparison with what one might generally call the spirit of the Enlightenment, in its positive but also critical senses. In other words, it offers a strong statement of principle – one that is highly morally inflected, clearly about values and just as clearly oriented toward a perceived threat of the priorities and procedures of government being undermined or even displaced by those of the corporation. In its emphasis on a notion of citizenship that is not equivalent or subordinate to the market or market behavior, I think it is in some important ways directly linked to certain Enlightenment ideals, particularly of representative government. Being a statement of principle, I will be using it here in order to raise some questions about the ways that public and private meet, and also to question the ‘corporatization’ of the public sphere.
  • Patomäki, Heikki Olavi (2019)
    The purpose of the contemporary university has been redefined across the world in terms of success in global competition, usefulness for moneymaking, and efficiency, meaning application of New Public Management ideas. My aim is to sketch an alternative and future-oriented ethico-political conception of the university to serve counterhegemonic purposes. First I discuss briefly the Humboldtian myth and legacy. Second, I summarize Jürgen Habermas’s analysis of the historical and practical limits of the idea of the university. Third, in response to Habermas’s criticism, I outline a nonspeculative, scientific realist way of understanding the unity of all sciences and humanities. Fourth, I locate the idea of the university in the twenty-first century global context, understood in part as world risk society. And finally, I argue that the autonomy of the university should be anchored in the rules, principles and institutional arrangements of multi-spatial metagovernance, rather than just those of territorial states. The future of the university calls for new cosmopolitan institutional solutions and world citizenship.
  • Viita-Aho, Mari (Helsingfors universitet, 2016)
    The starting point of this thesis is the question of a probable tension between educational and economic objectives in art museums. I have chosen to approach this question by focusing on gallery education. My primary aim has been to analyse what kind of concepts, goals and values gallery education is founded on. I have also deliberated upon the change in gallery education during the last decades. The data for this thesis was produced by interviewing gallery educators in nine (9) separate interviews. The interviews were partly structured and proceeded according to chosen themes. I have analysed the interviews by using the discursive approach. The main themes and negotiations that arose in the interviews were set between institutional and individual point of views, but also between economic objectives and intrinsic values. As a result of the analysis of these negotiations I have constructed a discursive field of gallery education. On this discursive field gallery education is approached from four points of view – as an experience, as service, as learning, and as an opener of new horizons. On the basis of the discursive field, I conclude that gallery education and its development at the present time has two strong emphases: individual experience and economic interests. These emphases are partly opposite and partly supportive to each other. There is a tendency to underscore the economic objectives and design activity according to these objectives. Sometimes this tendency is opposed and answered by using the concept of experience. By using experience it becomes possible to keep the economic objectives at a distance. On the other hand, the stress on experience shifts activity to more individualistic ways of thinking and sometimes further away from cultural and educational goals. On the basis of this thesis it seems that emphasizing individualism in general is producing a need to strengthen the connection between society and individuals, and anchor the activity back to the society. It also seems that this is done by bringing the focus back to the intrinsic values of the activity by applying the goal of societal effects to gallery education as a separate object.
  • Harjuniemi, Timo (2020)
    The austerity measures adopted after the financial crisis of 2008-2009 accelerated the critical scholarship on neoliberalism and the media. This article uses discourse theory to analyse how The Economist newspaper constructed a 'euphemised' neoliberal discourse amid the European austerity drive in the years 2010-2012. The article argues for distinguishing between different types of neoliberalism and defines euphemised neoliberalism as a discourse that is characterised by a post-political style, a posture typical of The Economist's elite journalistic identity. The article discusses the type of discourse being articulated via The Economist's rhetorical strategies of moral and rational austerity, anti-politics and austerity as modernisation. These strategies allowed for a nuanced and even a critical debate on European austerity policies, but ultimately The Economist produced a depoliticised understanding of economic policy-making, as the need for austerity and reforms could not be questioned. Finally, the article discusses how the austerity measures adopted in 2010 led to a crisis in the previously constituted euphemised neoliberal discourse and accelerated counter-hegemonic discourses, such as authoritarian forms of neoliberalism.
  • Kantola, Anu (2002)
    In the early 1990s Finland experienced banking crisis that can be considered as one of the most severe ones in the OECD-countries since the Second World War. At the same time the crisis was a part of a larger political change as Finland was liberating financial markets and moving towards market oriented systems in society. This work analyses the talk of the Finnish political elites in this process. Theoretically the work draws of the work of Michel Foucault and especially his concepts of governance and governmentality. According to Foucault modern states develop special forms of political governance, which use language and special forms of knowledge such as economy and economics. Foucault aims to study the particular historical forms governance takes in various historical situations. In this case, the aim is to look at the particular case of Finland in the 1990s. What kind of regime of governance develops in the Finnish economic crisis? The study analyses biographical accounts of the crisis by the most important political decision-makers. The interviews were made by Sitra in 1995. Moreover, previous research on the crisis as well as already published memoirs of the political elite and background interviews of the elite are used as secondary sources. It is suggested that the economic crisis creates a regime of political governance named moral managerialism. Political and ideological distinctions are to a large extent wiped away from the talk of the political elite. Instead the elite is united by managerial talk, which thrives to solve given problems instead of discussing various political alternatives and interests. At the same time many decision-makers use moral analysis. The crisis is seen as a result of a moral failure as the morals of the common people failed. This moral managerialism in interpreted as a form of political governance, which is based on neoliberalistic, economistic and nationalistic ideas. The appearing regime does not endorse the ideals of democracy. On the contrary, elections, public discussion and citizens are in the eyes of many decision-makers a problem that hinders effective and rational management. At the same time markets gain a prominent position in elite talk and surpass politics, which gets a negative connotation as a word. The Finnish political elite appears in the crisis as a relatively homogeneous group. The elite is united in pragmatic talk based on national economy, while various political ideologies and ideas, that could create cleavages within the elite, are put aside.
  • Bukovskis, Karlis (2010)
    This Master’s Thesis contributes to the theoretical approach of ‘economism’ developed by Teivo Teivainen as well as the theoretical discussion on the changing responsibilities of foreign ministries and the influences of modern neoliberal economic principles on foreign policy. The case study of this research is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia. The aim of the research therefore was to examine if and how economism manifests itself in the responsibilities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with regards to Latvia’s external economic relations. This research contributes to the theoretical stances of economism by developing a set of conceptual principles and exercising them on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A discourse – containing arguments and principles expressed by interviewed officials and conceptual foreign policy documents – is screened for the presence of these predefined principles of economism. The documents regulating the responsibilities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are subjected to a diachronic comparative analysis to identify whether the political influence and responsibilities of the Ministry have diminished over the time and if a constitutionalization of economism has taken place. The analysis reveals a constitutionalization of economism through a gradual reduction of responsibilities and political influences of the Ministry since the beginning of 1990s. The control and political influence that the Ministry had after the collapse of the Soviet Union was reduced, liberalizing economic relations and opening the market. The MFA's responsibilities and influences have been adjusted to the needs and demands of the business sector – the promotion of domestic businesses abroad and the attraction of the foreign investors. The embassies and the MFA add ‘political muscle’ by demonstrating support for the business sector rather than by constraining it. The main responsibilities left for the MFA and embassies are the representation of businesses, occasional assistance for citizens, expert advice to the host state and improving the image of the country. The presence of the principles of economism within the discourse is not unequivocal. The economic rationale does not dominate the discourse of the responsibilities of the MFA. Economic rationale and even boundary creation itself is largely absent from the discourse constituted by the principles within the documents regulating the functioning of the MFA. Even more, the discourse constituted by the principles expressed by the officials in the interviews for this research does not reveal strong dominance of economic rationale either. Present principles show support for apolitism in state affairs and limitations on external sovereignty. At the same time, there are also strong opposing views, especially with regards to the limits of democracy and internal sovereignty. Nevertheless the legal documents demonstrate that the boundary between economical and political is being created by taking the strong decision making powers on external economic relations away from the MFA and so revealing the constitutionalization of economism. The defined principles of economism though should be further tested in future analyses.