Browsing by Subject "political economy"

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  • Baloch, Suvi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Violence against women is a deep-rooted global injustice, yet it is less often scrutinized as a category of political economy. In this research relating to human rights advocacy in Pakistan, I seek to do so. I study the ways in which local women's rights organizations attempt to hold state to account for eliminating the malice and removing its structural causes. In particular, I examine how feminist constructions of VAW and advocacy practices towards curbing it take part in the politics of development. The research is based on fieldwork which I conducted in the mid-2010's in urban Pakistan. Interviews with 17 informants representing 12 women's rights groups, NGOs and government agencies constitute the primary data. I use ethnographic lens in mapping the organizational field, yet my main deconstructive method is critical discourse analysis. The research is underpinned by post-development theory, postcolonial feminist critique, anthropology of modernity and feminist violence research. The findings consist of three discourses and two developmental logics. Each discourse explains VAW as an issue of individual infringement of rights and a question of state structures with a distinct orientation – those of gender equity, legal protection and political reform. The discourses are rooted in 'human rights developmentalism' and neoliberalism, yet they are still locally contingent in varied ways. The developmental logics of 'saviorism in solidarity' and 'commonsense hope' render visible ways in which the organizations deploy civilisation narrative and an unquestioned hope in aid's capacity to deliver 'development' as political resources. I argue that the discourses construct VAW by reference to apolitical notions of 'backwardness' not only to justify organizational advocacy practices that center upon delivering "higher awareness and morals" to the "ignorant masses". Instead, such notions contribute to building a counter discourse to the misogynous state ideology as well as an alternative political space that enables women's rights organizations persevere in Pakistan. While the discourses fail the 'beneficiaries' of aid by upholding empty developmentalist promises, they nevertheless do not exacerbate VAW. The research suggests that development ideologies, albeit contributing to global inequalities, may serve as meaningful political tools for undoing local adversities.
  • Lu, Sijie (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    In the past 10 year, the inequality discourse has been greatly shaped by Piketty’s capital accumulation theory presented in Capital in the 21st Century. Although it has popularized the capital-income dichotomy in inequality research, the missing role of institution has severely restricted the model’s explanatory power. Illuminated by the concept of factor concentration and the decomposition analysis in recent literature, this thesis will analyze the role of one special form of capital -housing- in inequality formation. The omnipresent influence of government (or institution) in housing welfare allocation will be explained. Moreover, it will pay extra attention to the Nordic countries who are arguably featured with high degree of equality and deep state intervention. It will be shown the inequality measured by some indices is surprisingly high in those societies. However, after taking into consideration their welfare regimes the measuring methodologies, the results do not seem so gloomy. The universalistic embodied in their system and a relatively stronger macro level welfare state are not reflected in the data but are effective in defending housing-related welfare. The thesis aims at incorporating welfare states theory and housing economics literature into inequality discourse. It will be demonstrated that the welfare institution in a society has strong effect on shaping wealth and ultimately welfare distribution. Through this empirical discussion, the importance of including qualitative literature in interpretating quantitative results will be emphasized.
  • Färkkilä, Matti Evert (2010)
    The British gas industry has experienced a massive structural reorganisation since the 1980’s with the privatisation of the national monopoly company British Gas in 1986 and the ensuing market liberalisation. These developments were largely driven by logic of economic efficiency, and traditional energy policy concerns, such as managing the balance of energy sources and ensuring security of adequate supplies, were not a major concern (Helm, 2005; Stern, 2004). The new approach thus represented a paradigmatic shift from the state monopoly model of the post-war period in which control over energy resources and self-sufficiency took priority. Helm (2005, p.3) argues that since the turn of the millennium another structural break has taken place amounting to a ‘paradigm shift’ as supply security considerations entered the energy policy discourse. The reason is mainly the realisation of the dawning depletion of the UK's domestic resources. The aim of this paper is two-fold: Firstly, to attempt to explain the move to the liberal market paradigm and how it resulted in a structural tendency for a continued opening towards the international markets. A historical institutional perspective will be adopted to account for the liberalisation developments in the 1980’s. Particular attention will be given to the role of ideas in the process. The objective is to demonstrate how the existing institutional arrangements in interplay with ideational currents facilitated the structural change that took place in the gas industry. Furthermore, they necessitated an opening up to the outside, namely towards the European Union (EU). Thereafter, the ideational paradigm shift has had a long-lasting effect on later developments. Secondly, the paper will aim to assess the implications of the new 'security paradigm’ and to what extent it can be considered a change from the 'liberalisation paradigm'. It will be argued that it cannot – at least as yet – be considered a paradigmatic shift in the same sense as liberalisation in the 1980s. The entering of security in the discourse amounts to little more than a defence of the liberalised market structure. The securitisation theory developed by Buzan (1991) and Waever (1995) will be introduced here to be applied on a study on the British government's position on security of supply issues since 2000, as expressed in various government reports on energy policy. It will be shown that market logic and non-interference is justified on security grounds. Lack of European and global liberalisation is presented as the real security problem, thus externalising responsibility.
  • Kaartinen, Timo (2021)
  • Nygren, Anja; Kröger, Markus; Gills, Barry (2022)
    This article examines global extractivisms and transformative alternatives; addressing: (1) access to and control over resources, (2) governance and recognition, (3) environmental-social harms, and (4) justice. The examination of these themes provides an understanding of the sociospatial links between extractivism and differentiated distribution of benefits and burdens. The study sheds light on the politics of recognition, including the discourses and policies that enable extractive industries to obtain licences to operate in resource-rich territories. The analysis illuminates the inseparability of environmental-social impacts of extractivism, including altered human-nonhuman relations, while opening perspectives to claims for justice and the search for transformative alternatives.
  • Kurki, Niklas (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Previous research in political economy has emphasized corporate lobbying as a pathway through which businesses influence government policy. This thesis examines a less-studied mode of influence: private regulation, defined as voluntary efforts by firms to restrain their own business, in the context of Finnish private elderly care. The thesis suggests that profits in elderly care is a particularly controversial policy issue that suffers from market repugnance, defined as a situation where there might be willing suppliers and demanders of certain transactions, but an aversion to those transactions by others restrain or even stop the transactions. Now, this thesis assert that elderly care firms can use modest private regulation as a political strategy to decrease market repugnance and in so doing preempt more stringent government regulations that could hinder profit making. To test this hypothesis, this thesis organized a survey experiment, where university students and young professionals participated. The survey experiment revealed that the subjects reacted to a private regulation initiative (PRI) by firms. When subjects were asked whether profits should be allowed in elderly care, they held more positive views towards profits after exposed to the PRI. The same dynamic also materialized when subjects evaluated whether firms should be allowed to independently determine minimum staffing requirement per elderly. Furthermore, subjects were also more trustful in the prospect that elderly care firms prioritize the health of elderly before profits, after informed with the PRI. The findings in this thesis have potentially significant societal implications particularly in the domain of private sector influence on social- and healthcare policy. Private regulation is a political strategy that firms can use to decrease demand for stringent government regulation. In addition, the results suggest that firms needn’t use a lot of resources to decrease demand for regulation. However, the results also suggest that there is a demand among the public for more socially responsible firms. Even those on the Left are ready to reward firms that display a tangible commitment to responsible conduct with greater freedoms and increased legitimacy. This could ideally nudge firms towards a more responsible and a more societally embedded conduct.
  • Tammisto, Tuomas (University of Helsinki, 2018)
    Research Series in Anthropology
    The thesis examines how the Mengen living in the rural Pomio District in Papua New Guinea reproduce their society and their lived environment by engaging in swidden horticulture, logging, wage labor on plantations and community conservation. These four practices have created and continue to create different kinds of places and social relations that involve the Mengen, like other inhabitants of Pomio, within larger political and economic structures. These have also produced, reproduced and at times significantly changed the environment of the Mengen. By examining the four complex modes of engaging with the environment, the thesis seeks to answer two questions. First, how the Mengen produce their livelihood, a socially meaningful environment and valued social relations in the process. Second, how the Mengen take part in natural resource extraction, the expansion of industrial agriculture and state territorialization on a resource frontier---a spatialized process in which resources, practices and their values are defined. This often involves struggle, which reflects the notion that the greatest political struggles are not only over who gets to appropriate value, but who gets to define it. The study is aimed as a contribution to the understandings of human-environmental relations and natural resource extraction. It suggests that political ecology combined with anthropological theories of value help us understand how people who have intimate relations with their lived environment engage in a globalized resource economy. The thesis argues that there is no uniform way in which "the Mengen" take part in logging or the making of the state. The very different approaches deployed and the ensuing disagreements are, however, often disagreements over how best to pursue Mengen values of establishing productive relations with each other, the land and people from elsewhere. The Mengen have been successful in retaining their system of values over long and extensive contact with commodity relations, foreign companies and state administrations, while adapting to and incorporating these changes into their lives without losing hold of what they value. A key reason for this is that they have not been dispossessed of their lands, but continue to hold them communally.
  • Patomaki, Heikki (2014)
    Following decades of economic globalisation and market-oriented reforms across the world, Karl Polanyi’s double movement has been invoked not only to explain what is happening but also to give reasons for being hopeful about a different future. Some have suggested a pendulum model of history: a swing from markets to society leading, in the next phase, to a swing from society to markets, and so on. The double movement can also be understood dialectically as a description of an irreversible historical development following its own inner laws or schemes of development. Going beyond a thesis – antithesis – synthesis pattern, I maintain that conceptions and schemes drawn from dialectics, and especially dialectical critical realism, can provide better geo-historical hypotheses for explaining past changes and for building scenarios about possible future changes. I analyse political economy contradictions and tendencies, and focus on normative rationality, to assess substantial claims about rational tendential directionality of world history. I argue that democratic global Keynesianism would enable processes of decommodification and new syntheses concerning the market/social nexus. A learning process towards qualitatively higher levels of reflexivity can help develop global transformative agency. Existing contradictions can be resolved by means of rational collective actions and building more adequate common institutions. These collective actions are likely to involve new forms of political agency such as world political parties.
  • Sundell, Taavi (2021)
    Plan S, promoted by cOAlition S, is a significant attempt to hegemonize a specific form of Open Access (OA) as the future of academic publishing on a global level. It mandates that the results from Coalition-funded research must be published in fora compliant with its criteria. This article questions the Plan’s supposed radicalness from a political economy perspective with the help of post-foundational discourse theory. Specific attention will be paid to its implications for property rights as the contingent foundation of knowledge production. The Plan and OA will be examined within the context of globally unequal structures of scientific knowledge production and attempts to transform them into a more equal system. The analyzed data consist of the archive from the following sequence: (i) the publication of draft guidance on the implementation of the Plan, released by the Coalition in November 2018, (ii) a collection of feedback statements on the draft by the Coalition from November 2018 to February 2019, and (iii) release of the updated guidance adopted and published by the Coalition in May 2019. The primary object of analysis is the antagonism articulated towards the Plan within what is here termed the conservative-propertarian discursive formation.
  • Welsh, John W (2021)
    This historical materialist analysis places rankings into the imperatives both to govern and to accumulate, and positions academic ranking in particular as the telos of a more general audit culture. By identifying how rankings effect not merely a quantification of qualities, but a numeration of quantities, we can expose how state governments, managerial strata and political elites achieve socially stratifying political objectives that actually frustrate the kind of market-rule for which rankings have been hitherto legitimised among the public. The insight here is that rankings make of audit techniques neither simply a market proxy, nor merely the basis for bureaucratic managerialism, but a social technology or 'apparatus' (dispositif) that simultaneously substitutes and frustrates market operations in favour of a more acutely stratified social order. This quality to the operation of rankings can then be connected to the chronic accumulation crisis that is the neoliberal regime of political economy, and to the growing political appetite therein for power-knowledge techniques propitious for oligarchy formation and accumulation-by-dispossession in the kind of low-growth and zero-sum environment typical in real terms to societies dominated by financialisation. A dialectical approach to rankings is suggested, so that a more effective engagement with their internal and practical contradictions can be realised in a way that belies the market-myths of neoliberal theory.
  • Patomäki, Heikki Olavi (Oxford University Press, 2017)
    The Anarchical Society outlines various possible world orders, such as New Medievalism and world state, as alternatives to the anarchic order of the modern states-system. In this chapter, I evaluate critically the factual and normative premises of his arguments concerning possible, likely and desirable future world orders (factual and normative are intertwined but not inseparable). A key point is that Bull somewhat underestimated the sway of globalizing forces, including the gradual emergence of elements of world statehood. My main argument, however, is that because of his omission of political economy, Bull would have been puzzled about the causes of the re-emergence of great power conflicts. For the same reason, he also misjudged the importance of building better common institutions.
  • Kurtti, Tia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    This thesis asks whether the Greens' increased political power in local councils following the results of the municipal election in 2017 has caused an increase in investments in environmental protection in Finnish municipalities in 2018 and 2019. To answer this question and to gauge causal relationship, a difference-in-differences model is employed for which 294 municipalities located in mainland Finland are divided in treatment and control groups, depending on whether the Greens had become one of the three biggest parties measured in vote share in municipal election in 2017 or not, respectively. The data used in the analysis extend from 2008 to 2019 and are freely available in the Official Statistics of Finland database. While climate change is a global problem, local actions are also needed. Actions to tackle the climate change are often political and they are taken by politicians. In Finland's case, some actions are directed by the European Union, some of the legislation comes from the Finnish government and some decisions are made in municipalities by local politicians. A vast field of economics is devoted to studying the causes and consequences of policies and political decisions, that is political economy. This thesis contributes to the vast field of political economics literature by explaining the relationship of local government decision-making and politics in general and in detail, as it focuses to the relationship of an individual party and municipality's investment decisions. The size of the Finnish local government is remarkable which is why it is fair to claim that municipalities play a significant role in implementing national regulation but also in making their own decisions. The Greens is profiled as a pro-environmental alternative in Finnish politics. In the platform for the 2017 election the party emphasized the impact of municipalities in the battle against the climate change. In the 2017 municipal election the Greens was the fourth largest party winning 534 seats while gaining 212 seats from 2012 election. Nationwide, the vote share of the Greens increased by 4 percentage points from the previous municipal election. The statistically significant estimates show a negative causal relationship between the investments in environmental protection and the Greens’ increased political power. In those 18 municipalities, in which the Greens reached a top 3 position in the 2017 municipal election, the municipalities spend on average 1.09 euros per capita less in investments in environmental protection compared to their counterfactuals in the post-treatment period. When controlling for the Greens' vote share, the difference extends to 1.42 euros per capita. As robustness checks, other linear models estimating the relationship between the investments in environmental protection and the Greens’ increased political power in all mainland Finland municipalities are employed. The results of the robustness checks show that the decrease in environmental investments in treated municipalities does not apply for those municipalities, in which the Greens has had more power for longer period.
  • Ojala, Markus Mikael (University of Helsinki, Department of Social Research, 2017)
    Publications of the Faculty of Social Sciences
    Recent decades have seen an increase in the number of international forums and media that focus on current issues of the world economy and politics. They bring decision-makers from the spheres of politics, business and administration into a common conversation, and connect powerful individuals around the globe. This study defines these institutions as spaces for transnational elite communication (TEC) and examines their relevance in the processes of global economic integration and governance. Focusing on the World Economic Forum and the Financial Times as influential spaces for TEC, the study observes how they enable the powerful to network, develop shared ideas about the economy and negotiate differences between competing interests. Facilitating the definition of the values and principles of the globalising elite, international business-policy forums and media emerge as key pillars of the liberal international order.
  • Obeng-Odoom, Franklin (2021)
    Theories of rent are wide-ranging. However, whether neoclassical, Marxist, or Proudhonist, they tend to neglect evolutionary institutionalist theorising. Increasingly dominated by the income approach, rent theories need to be expanded, partly to correct existing work, partly to break persistent intellectual monopoly and oligopoly, and particularly to develop institutional theories of rent. In this paper, I attempt to do so by presenting and evaluating the surplus approach to rent, particularly R.T. Ely’s, highlighting its power and potential and stressing its critiques and contradictions. Drawing, among others, on the original writings of Ely, it is argued that, while the emphasis on property rights, land as a ‘bundle of sticks’, and rent as surplus rather than income help to advance heterodox approaches to rent, the surplus approach is severely limited in its analysis of inequalities and how they can be addressed, especially in extractivist and rentier societies. To unravel long-term inequalities that characterise rent and rentier economies, it is crucial for surplus theorists to engage stratification economics which, in turn, can drive the surplus approach to rent.
  • Wahlsten, Johan (University of Helsinki, 2020)
    Helsinki Global Political Economy Working Papers
    Recently, there have emerged several holistic initiatives aiming for comprehensive socio-ecological change. In this paper, I analyse the political economy of four recent plans falling under the rubric of a “Green New Deal”, which, while sharing many similarities, are examples of four distinct approaches to socio-ecological change. Crucial differences concern the proposals’ future-oriented narratives, their position on growth, democracy, technology, how to finance the changes and the relations between socio-economic, political and environmental questions. Although there exists a relatively extensive consensus on the necessity of wide-ranging change, the differences identified illustrate the disagreements that persist on the scale, scope, and purpose of the change, on how to come about with the transformation and whose agency matters in this process. I argue that the plans, by emphasising strategy at the expense of an analytical perspective, may run the risk of becoming blind both to the contradictions innate in their approaches and the gaps that, during a conjuncture of historical crises and a world of increasing environmental degradation and social hardship, might be opening for more ambitious changes.
  • Brunila, Mikael (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Since the beginning of the housing crisis in Spain in 2008, la Plataforma por Afectados de la Hipoteca (PAH) has grown to become one of the most dynamic and powerful social movements in the country. In my Master’s thesis, I use theories from political economy, Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), and a minor reading of the work of political philosopher Benedict de Spinoza, to look at the path two people who were “affected by mortgage” took from emotional and financial distress towards collective and transformative agency. Instead of leap-frogging from the personal crisis of our informants to the point of empowerment, I utilise the concept of expansive learning to dwell on the different stages in the process. Through the Spinozan concept of affects and contemporary neuropsychological theories of emotion, I distinguish between different instances of emotion and affect that the informants express as they reflect over how they chose to challenge the banks demanding that they give up their homes. Through collectively processing the hierarchies associated with debt and money, and by expanding the object of their activities from merely overcoming an untenable situation with their mortgage to a wider, shared framework of mutual aid, the informants show how expansive learning in the context of PAH appears as a joyful sensation of an increased capacity to act upon the world together with others. In this framework, expansive learning can, following Spinoza, be understood as a formation of common notions, as people who are dispossessed or risk dispossession encounter each other to find shared ground in their experiences and move from lonely, sad, and passive affects to a joyful and active feeling of collective power. To understand this process, I use thematic analysis together with a theory of affect and emotion to show how phases in the cycle of learning can be understood as successive transitions towards a joyful capacity to act upon the world together with others. Finally, I look at how the intrusion of global financial actors has imposed a serious threat and challenge to this local process of empowerment.