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  • Shaheen, Ranad (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    B. cereus is a gram-positive bacterium that possesses two different forms of life:the large, rod-shaped cells (ca. 0.002 mm by 0.004 mm) that are able to propagate and the small (0.001 mm), oval shaped spores. The spores can survive in almost any environment for up to centuries without nourishment or water. They are insensitive towards most agents that normally kill bacteria: heating up to several hours at 90 ºC, radiation, disinfectants and extreme alkaline (≥ pH 13) and acid (≤ pH 1) environment. The spores are highly hydrophobic and therefore make them tend to stick to all kinds of surfaces, steel, plastics and live cells. In favorable conditions the spores of B. cereus may germinate into vegetative cells capable of producing food poisoning toxins. The toxins can be heat-labile protein formed after ingestion of the contaminated food, inside the gastrointestinal tract (diarrhoeal toxins), or heat stable peptides formed in the food (emesis causing toxin, cereulide). Cereulide cannot be inactivated in foods by cooking or any other procedure applicable on food. Cereulide in consumed food causes serious illness in human, even fatalities. In this thesis, B. cereus strains originating from different kinds of foods and environments and 8 different countries were inspected for their capability of forming cereulide. Of the 1041 isolates from soil, animal feed, water, air, used bedding, grass, dung and equipment only 1.2 % were capable of producing cereulide, whereas of the 144 isolates originating from foods 24 % were cereulide producers. Cereulide was detected by two methods: by its toxicity towards mammalian cells (sperm assay) and by its peculiar chemical structure using liquid-chromatograph-mass spectrometry equipment. B. cereus is known as one of the most frequent bacteria occurring in food. Most foods contain more than one kind of B. cereus. When randomly selected 100 isolates of B. cereus from commercial infant foods (dry formulas) were tested, 11% of these produced cereulide. Considering a frequent content of 103 to 104 cfu (colony forming units) of B. cereus per gram of infant food formula (dry), it appears likely that most servings (200 ml, 30 g of the powder reconstituted with water) may contain cereulide producers. When a reconstituted infant formula was inoculated with >105 cfu of cereulide producing B. cereus per ml and left at room temperature, cereulide accumulated to food poisoning levels (> 0.1 mg of cereulide per serving) within 24 hours. Paradoxically, the amount of cereulide (per g of food) increased 10 to 50 fold when the food was diluted 4 - 15 fold with water. The amount of the produced cereulide strongly depended on the composition of the formula: most toxin was formed in formulas with cereals mixed with milk, and least toxin in formulas based on milk only. In spite of the aggressive cleaning practices executed by the modern dairy industry, certain genotypes of B. cereus appear to colonise the silos tanks. In this thesis four strategies to explain their survival of their spores in dairy silos were identified. First, high survival (log 15 min kill ≤ 1.5) in the hot alkaline (pH >13) wash liquid, used at the dairies for cleaning-in-place. Second, efficient adherence of the spores to stainless steel from cold water. Third, a cereulide producing group with spores characterized by slow germination in rich medium and well preserved viability when exposed to heating at 90 ºC. Fourth, spores capable of germinating at 8 ºC and possessing the psychrotolerance gene, cspA. There were indications that spores highly resistant to hot 1% sodium hydroxide may be effectively inactivated by hot 0.9% nitric acid. Eight out of the 14 dairy silo tank isolates possessing hot alkali resistant spores were capable of germinating and forming biofilm in whole milk, not previously reported for B. cereus. In this thesis it was shown that cereulide producing B. cereus was capable of inhibiting the growth of cereulide non-producing B. cereus occurring in the same food. This phenomenon, called antagonism, has long been known to exist between B. cereus and other microbial species, e.g. various species of Bacillus, gram-negative bacteria and plant pathogenic fungi. In this thesis intra-species antagonism of B. cereus was shown for the first time. This brother-killing did not depend on the cereulide molecule, also some of the cereulide non-producers were potent antagonists. Interestingly, the antagonistic clades were most frequently found in isolates from food implicated with human illness. The antagonistic property was therefore proposed in this thesis as a novel virulence factor that increases the human morbidity of the species B. cereus, in particular of the cereulide producers.
  • Kaasalainen, Sanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2002)
  • Kashaga, Frateline (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    ABSTRACT This thesis explores the extent to which the current Tanzanian Social Policy takes into consideration indigenous African cultural sensibilities for the social security of the elderly in a rural setting. This has been addressed in four scientific papers, which build on the first hand ethnographic data I gathered from Bukoba rural district over a period of six months 2010/2011. The first article discusses African Indigenous Knowledge and Social Security of the Elderly in Rural Tanzania: The Case of Bukoba Rural District. This article examines the development of social policy in Tanzania since the country got her independence in 1961. However, the article indicates that the development of social policy in Tanzania has been determined by economics and politics (Tungaraza, 1990; Mchomvu at el, 1998) as opposed to social considerations that take into account traditional knowledge and viability of traditional livelihood options for groups, including the elderly.The second article illustrates how the elderly struggle to negotiate their cultural space through symbols, rituals and traditional practices. I have problematized the concept of cultural space in relation to the Haya-African livelihood of the elderly. As part of my contribution to the social sciences, I have critically interrogated the concept of cultural space to highlight inter-generational conflicts and tensions between Hayan elders and their young generation. In doing so the second article demonstrates the extent to which inter-generational tensions are (re)producing the space that supports the livelihoods of the Hayan elderly in a globalizing world. As a result, the indigenous social safety nets need revitalized. The third article deals exclusively with traditional agricultural practices within the mainstream policy framework of neo-liberalism and the welfare of the elderly. The fourth paper addresses issues around indigenous language, specifically Ruhaya and its relevance to both the ontological and epistemological roots of indigenous knowledge. The policy makers in Tanzania as in many other post-colonial African countries have neglected, and sometimes completely ignored, the significance of indigenous knowledge as preserved in rural communities that constitute over 70 percent of the population. As a result, the policy framework of the country lacks input from grassroots communities specifically on issues around old age and social insecurity. Accordingly, indigenous livelihood options and traditional social safety nets, which have sustained rural African communities for years, have suffered greatly. This is a result of policy formulations, exclusively based on alien culture in relation to local people in villages. Most of these social policies have tried for several decades to implement the modernization project which has marginalized all forms of traditional practices and local knowledge since its inception in western countries. The main intention of the project is to modernize the rural African communities for poverty eradication and to improve socio-economic development. Yet the situation of rural African societies has deteriorated greatly and villagers are stuck in a cycle of abject poverty, which defies the logic of many years of development aid and the efforts of aid workers from western countries. The rural African elderly have suffered the most. Numerous studies have been carried out to learn about the predicament of rural peasants in Africa, yet the situation leaves much to be desired. This is partly attributed to the fact that, most of the studies have used perspectives, which view African societies largely from the western frame of reference. As a contribution to the body of knowledge of rural studies in contemporary African societies, the author of this PhD uses the African perspectives of rural studies and provides a different theoretical perspective rooted in indigenous African cultural sensibility of welfare programs for the elderly. This perspective recognizes the ideological theoretical approach in the effort to revitalize an experience from the historical period in which national romantic ideas influenced strongly the creation of national identities. It is assumed to have relevance since the Tanzanian nation misinterpreted its initial ideal efforts to build on its own heritage of Ujamaa, which drew some ideas from the cultural heritage of indigenous societies. In a similar vein, the author locates the theoretical insights within the recent academic debates, which several scholars have described as African Moral Economy . Here this thesis contributes by showing the potential vitality of rural economies as they have proven to be resilient to the on-going global economic crisis. It has shown the re-emergence of a similar type of economy in various parts of the world, such as South Brazil, USA, Philippines and in some member states of European Union. What has changed is what conceptual historians describe as conceptual change. The concept recently introduced in western academic literature is social economy . In addition to the above theoretical reflections, the thesis discusses whether public funded welfare programs for old people in developing countries are the best option, or private welfare programs are a feasible option. Drawing upon experiences and examples of Haya-Africans, the author argues in favour of introducing public funded welfare programs, cash transfer model for the elderly in rural communities. The Haya society, like many other ethnic groups in Tanzania, practices provides traditional livelihood such as traditional fishing, agricultural practices, community business activities and indigenous environmental conservation methods. These indigenous livelihood options can be supported by right government policies, incentives, legislations and transformed into semi-formal traditional welfare schemes. In doing so the indigenous livelihood options conform to the requirements of public financed welfare programs. Moreover, the thesis reveals in the empirical findings that indigenous knowledge is an indispensable asset for meaningful and sustainable rural development in contemporary African societies. In Conclusion, the thesis postulates that utilization of indigenous knowledge in social policy development in Tanzania is possible. But the author urges more research on indigenous societies in Tanzania for easy consumption and utilization by policy makers. The author urges also the government to mainstream indigenous knowledge to national educational system.
  • Ekman, Jaakko (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Bacteria growing in paper machines can cause several problems. Biofilms detaching from paper machine surfaces may lead to holes and spots in the end product or even break the paper web leading to expensive delays in production. Heat stable endospores will remain viable through the drying section of paper machine, increasing the microbial contamination of paper and board. Of the bacterial species regularly found in the end products, Bacillus cereus is the only one classified as a pathogen. Certain B. cereus strains produce cereulide, the toxin that causes vomiting disease in food poisonings connected to B. cereus. The first aim of this thesis was to identify harmful bacterial species colonizing paper machines and to assess the role of bacteria in the formation of end product defects. We developed quantitative PCR methods for detecting Meiothermus spp. and Pseudoxanthomonas taiwanensis. Using these methods I showed that Meiothermus spp. and Psx. taiwanensis are major biofoulers in paper machines. I was the first to be able to show the connection between end product defects and biofilms in the wet-end of paper machines. I isolated 48 strains of primary-biofilm forming bacteria from paper machines. Based on one of them, strain K4.1T, I described a novel bacterial genus Deinobacterium with Deinobacterium chartae as the type species. I measured the transfer of Bacillus cereus spores from packaging paper into food. To do this, we constructed a green fluorescent protein (GFP) labelled derivative of Bacillus thuringiensis and prepared paper containing spores of this strain. Chocolate and rice were the recipient foods when transfer of the labelled spores from the packaging paper to food was examined. I showed that only minority of the Bacillus cereus spores transferred into food from packaging paper and that this amount is very low compared to the amount of B. cereus naturally occurring in foods. Thus the microbiological risk caused by packaging papers is very low. Until now, the biological function of cereulide for the producer cell has remained unknown. I showed that B. cereus can use cereulide to take up K+ from environment where K+ is scarce: cereulide binds K+ ions outside the cell with high affinity and transports these ions across cell membrane into the cytoplasm. Externally added cereulide increased the growth rate of cereulide producing strains in medium where potassium was growth limiting. In addition, cereulide producing strains outcompeted cereulide non-producing B. cereus in potassium deficient environment, but not when the potassium concentration was high. I also showed that cereulide enhances biofilm formation of B. cereus.
  • Lassenius, Mariann (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    Around one-third of patients with type 1 diabetes develop diabetic nephropathy. Even though the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy is not fully understood, the process involves several environmental factors. Low grade inflammation has been linked to many metabolic diseases and is also evident in patients with type 1 diabetes, especially in the presence of nephropathy. Bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS) are powerful triggers of inflammation, but whether low grade inflammation is caused by these components is an open question. The aim of this thesis was to examine the relationship between LPS and the development of diabetic nephropathy, inflammation, vascular function, lipid metabolism, and intestinal homeostasis in patients with type 1 diabetes. The studies are part of the ongoing Finnish Diabetic Nephropathy Study (FinnDiane), a nationwide, multicenter study that aims to identify genetic and environmental risk factors for the development of diabetic complications in patients with type 1 diabetes. Study I was a follow-up study, and Studies II IV were cross-sectional in their design. Renal status was verified at follow-up by laboratory data and a review of all available medical files (Study I). Study II included, in addition to patients with type 1 diabetes, patients with IgA glomerulonephritis and non-diabetic control subjects. The participants in Studies III and IV had three consecutive high-fat meals and were followed for 10 hours postprandially. Factors associated with endotoxemia, vascular function, inflammation, and lipid metabolism were investigated. For all studies, LPS was measured by the limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) assay from serum samples. In the patients with type 1 diabetes, high serum LPS activity at baseline was associated with the development of microalbuminuria during the follow-up. High serum LPS was also associated with features of the metabolic syndrome in both the patients with type 1 diabetes and the overweight non-diabetic controls. Of note, no accumulation of LPS in the circulation was evident in response to three high-fat meals. However, the patients with type 1 diabetes showed altered postprandial lipid metabolism and vascular response. Moreover, factors associated with gut homeostasis were altered in the patients with type 1 diabetes compared to the non-diabetic controls. We show that high serum LPS is associated with the development of diabetic nephropathy and features of the metabolic syndrome. The metabolic syndrome is associated with insulin resistance, and it is a risk factor for both diabetic nephropathy and cardiovascular disease. Endotoxins may affect the development of diabetic nephropathy through the direct disruption of the filtration barrier, but also through insulin resistance at both the tissue and systemic levels. In response to acute high-fat feeding, no evidence for LPS accumulation was seen. However, unfavorable changes in lipid metabolism and vascular response in patients with type 1 diabetes may render them at higher cardio-metabolic risk. This risk may be further enhanced by adverse changes in both inflammatory and protective factors in the gut, leading to a possibly higher gut permeability and an increase in circulating endotoxins.
  • Lehto, Markku; Harjutsalo, Valma; Järvinen, Asko; Kirveskari, Juha; Forsblom, Carol; Groop, Per-Henrik; Simonsen, Johan Rasmus (Helsingfors universitet, 2015)
    Tidigare studier har visat en högre frekvens av bakterieinfektioner hos patienter med diabetes, men de specifika riskfaktorerna har varit oklara. Målet med vår studie var att underöka incidensen av bakterieinfektioner och deras koppling till kronisk hyperglykemi och diabetesnefropati hos patienter med typ 1 diabetes. Vi undersökte frekvensen av bakterieinfektioner hos patienter med typ 1 diabetes (n=4748) och deras kontrollpatienter som hade justerats för ålder och kön (n=12 954). Vi använde landsomfattande register ur vilka vi samlade information på årliga uppköp av antibiotika och epikrisdiagnoser mellan 1996 och 2009. Diabetesnefropati klassificerades enligt graden av albuminuri. Resultat: Frekvensen av bakterieinfektioner som krävde sjukhusvård och det årliga antalet uppköp av antibiotika var högre hos patienter med typ 1 diabetes, jämfört med kontrollpatienterna. Resultaten korrelerade även med svårighetsgraden av diabetesnefropati. Mängden årliga uppköp av antibiotika korrelerade med graden av kronisk hyperglykemi. Studien visar för första gången sambandet mellan bakterieinfektioner, kronisk hyperglykemi och diabetesnefropati.
  • Leskinen, Kimmo (Helsingin yliopisto, 2004)
  • Heinävaara, Maria (2014)
    Koirien hengitystieinfektiot ovat melko yleisiä. Ne ovat usein monitekijäisiä sairauksia, ja niiden diagnosointi ja hoito voi olla haastavaa vaihtelevien oireiden ja aiheuttajaorganismien laajan kirjon vuoksi. Vaikka koiran hengitystiet ovat alttiita monenlaisille, tyypillisimmin virusten tai bakteerien aiheuttamille infektioille, tavallisen terveen koiran alttius sairastua hengitystieinfektioon näyttäisi riippuvan pitkälti hengitysteiden puolustusmekanismien toiminnasta. Nämä puolustusmekanismit ovat varsin tehokkaita ja estävät yleensä infektioiden kehittymisen. Jotkin patogeenit kykenevät kuitenkin heikentämään hengitysteiden puolustusmekanismien toimintaa suoraan, tai vaikuttamalla niihin epäsuorasti heikentämällä ensin eläimen immuniteettivastetta. Nämä voivat johtaa infektion kehittymiseen hengitysteissä. Bakteeriperäinen keuhkokuume on kohtalaisen yleinen koirilla esiintyvä bakteeri-infektion aiheuttama alempien hengitysteiden sairaus, ja sitä voi esiintyä kaiken ikäisillä ja rotuisilla koirilla. Keuhkokuumeen vaikeusaste vaihtelee lievästä vakavaan, mutta tarkkaa tietoa sairauden esiintyvyydestä tai kuolleisuudesta ei ole. Tyypillisimmin koirien bakteeriperäinen keuhkokuume on sekundaarien patogeenien aiheuttama, mutta koirilla voi esiintyä myös primaarien patogeenien aiheuttamia infektioita. Primaareja hengitystieinfektioita aiheuttavia bakteereita esiintyy koirilla kuitenkin vain muutama. Bakteeriperäiselle keuhkokuumeelle altistavia tekijöitä on lukuisia, mutta on havaittu, että koiranpennut sairastuvat tyypillisimmin primaarien patogeenien, kuten Bordetella bronchiseptican, aiheuttamiin infektioihin, kun taas metsästys- ja urheilukoirilla hengitysteiden vierasesineen aiheuttamia infektioita esiintyy muita rotuja useammin. Iäkkäät koirat sairastuvat keuhkokuumeeseen usein heikentyneen immuunipuolustuksen tai aspiraation seurauksena. Immuunipuolustusta voi heikentää jokin tulehduksellinen tai synnynnäinen hengitystiesairaus, kun taas hengitysteiden rakenteelliset poikkeavuudet vaikuttavat usein merkittävästi hengitysteiden puolustusmekanismien toimintaan. Keuhkokuumeen hoito koirilla perustuu oireisiin ja kliinisen tilan arviointiin, jonka pohjalta arvioidaan hengitystienäytteenoton tarve ja aloitetaan antibioottihoito. Empiiriseen antibioottihoitoon päädytään usein silloin, kun kyseessä on lieväoireinen koira, tai jos keuhkokuume on diagnosoitu ensimmäistä kertaa. Vakavaoireisille potilaille ja potilaille, joilla kyseessä on uusiutunut ongelma, suositellaan bakteerinäytteenottoa hengitysteistä sekä antibioottiherkkyysmääritystä näytteissä mahdollisesti kasvaville bakteereille. Hoidon onnistumisen kannalta erilaisilla tukihoitomuodoilla, kuten happilisällä ja suonensisäisellä nesteytyksellä, on tärkeä merkitys, minkä lisäksi hyvällä seurannalla pyritään varmistamaan potilaan toipuminen ja estämään taudin mahdollinen uusiutuminen. Tulevaisuudessa bakteeriperäisen keuhkokuumeen diagnostiikassa ja hoidon seurannassa tulehduksellisten biomarkkereiden ja PCR-menetelmien käyttö saattaa lisääntyä. Tällä hetkellä koirien hoidossa suositellaan kohtuullisen pitkiä antibioottikuureja, ja seuranta perustuu oireisiin, valkosoluarvoihin ja röntgenkuviin. Pitkien antibioottikuurien käyttö voisi tulevaisuudessa lyhentyä merkittävästi, ja hoitokustannukset keuhkokuumeen seurannassa saattaisivat pienentyä, mikäli uusien tulehduksellisten biomarkkereiden seuranta osoittautuu hyödylliseksi. PCR-menetelmien avulla keuhkokuumeen aiheuttajapatogeeneistä voidaan saada nopeasti tietoa, mutta menetelmien liiallinen herkkyys voi johtaa virhepositiivisiin tuloksiin.
  • Pehkonen, Kati (Helsingfors universitet, 2013)
    Fungi play a crucial role in the ecosystem by recycling nutrients and forming mycorrhizal roots with plants. Many of the decomposer and mycorrhizal fungi are Bacidiomycetes. In the sexual reproduction stage, Bacidiomycetes produce fruiting bodies which enable them to produce and disseminate spores allowing fungi to spread to new growing sites. Fruiting bodies have been discovered to contain bacteria which may have a role in differentiation and maintenance of the fruiting body. They might also protect fruiting bodies against animals and diseases, and influence the nutritional value of the fruiting body. There is little knowledge about the amount of bacteria in the fruiting bodies. All previous research has been carried out entirely by cultivation-based methods and it shows that different fungal species contain very different amounts of bacteria. Some fruiting bodies have been shown not to contain easily cultivatable bacteria. The occurrence of archaea in fruiting bodies has not been previously studied and investigation into their function in fungi has only recently begun. In the present work significant amounts of bacterial and archaeal 16S rRNA -gene copies were discovered in the fruiting bodies of three ectomycorrhizal and three decomposer fungi species. This is the first time fruiting bodies have been shown to contain archaea. The occurrence of bacteria and archaea and the abundance of their 16S rRNA -genes in the fruiting bodies were determined using PCR ja quantitative PCR methods. Suillus bovinus and Boletus pinophilus fruiting bodies contained significantly more archaeal than bacterial gene copies. Cantharellus cibarius and Lycoperdon perlatum contained more bacterial than archaeal 16S rRNA -gene copies. In two decomposer fungi fruiting bodies, Agaricus arvensis and Piptoporus betulinus, the abundance of bacterial and archaeal gene copy numbers were equal. Suillus bovinus fruiting bodies had the largest copy number of archaeal 16S rRNA -genes from all species investigated. According to the results obtained in this work, the occurrence of bacteria and archaea might be common in fruiting bodies. The presence of bacteria and archaea in significant amounts in fruiting bodies may indicate their necessity for the development and sustainability of the fruiting body and hence to the whole life cycle of fungi.
  • Paatero, Anja (1994)
  • Janér, Joakim (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    The aims of this Thesis was to evaluate the role of proangiogenic placental growth factor (PlGF), antiangiogenic endostatin and lymphangiogenic vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) -C as well as the receptors vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) -2 and VEGFR-3 during lung development and in development of lung injury in preterm infants. The studied growth factors were selected due to a close relationship with VEGF-A; a proangiogenic growth factor important in normal lung angiogenesis and lung injury in preterm infants. The thesis study consists of three analyses. I: Lung samples from fetuses, preterm and term infants without lung injury, as well as preterm infants with acute and chronic lung injury were stained by immunohistochemistry for PlGF, endostatin, VEGF-C, VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3. II: Tracheal aspirate fluid (TAF) was collected in the early postnatal period from a patient population consisting of 59 preterm infants, half developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and half without BPD. PlGF, endostatin and VEGF-C concentrations were measured by commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). III: Cord plasma was collected from very low birth weight (VLBW) (n=92) and term (n=48) infants in conjuncture with birth and endostatin concentrations were measured by ELISA. I: All growth factors and receptors studied were consistently stained in immunohistochemistry throughout development. For endostatin in early respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), no alveolar epithelial or macrophage staining was seen, whereas in late RDS and BPD groups, both alveolar epithelium and macrophages stained positively in approximately half of the samples. VEGFR-2 staining was fairly consistent, except for the fact that capillary endothelial staining in the BPD group was significantly decreased. II: During the first postnatal week in TAF mean PlGF concentrations were stable whereas mean endostatin and VEGF-C concentrations decreased. Higher concentrations of endostatin and VEGF-C correlated with lower birth weight (BW) and associated with administration of antenatal betamethasone. Parameters reflecting prenatal lung inflammation associated with lower PlGF, endostatin and VEGF-C concentrations. A higher mean supplemental fraction of inspired oxygen during the first 2 postnatal weeks (FiO2) correlated with higher endostatin concentrations. III: Endostatin concentrations in term infants were significantly higher than in VLBW infants. In VLBW infants higher endostatin concentrations associated with the development of BPD, this association remained significant after logistic regression analysis. We conclude that PlGF, endostatin and VEGF-C all have a physiological role in the developing lung. Also, the VEGFR-2 expression profile seems to reflect the ongoing differentiation of endothelia during development. Both endostatin and VEGFR-2 seem to be important in the development of BPD. During the latter part of the first postnatal week, preterm infants developing BPD have lower concentrations of VEGF-A in TAF. Our findings of disrupted VEGFR-2 staining in capillary and septal endothelium seen in the BPD group, as well as the increase in endostatin concentrations both in TAF and cord plasma associated with BPD, seem to strengthen the notion that there is a shift in the angiogenic balance towards a more antiangiogenic environment in BPD. These findings support the vascular hypothesis of BPD.
  • Keskitalo, Elsa (Stakes, 2008)
    The study examines the origin and development of the Finnish activation policy since the mid-1990s by using the 2001 activation reform as a benchmark. The notion behind activation is to link work obligations to welfare benefits for the unemployed. The focus of the thesis is policy learning and the impact of ideas on the reform of the welfare state. The broader research interests of the thesis are summarized by two groups of questions. First, how was the Finnish activation policy developed and what specific form did it receive in the 2001 activation reform? Second, how does the Finnish activation policy compare to the welfare reforms in the EU and in the US? What kinds of ideas and instruments informed the Finnish policy? To what extent can we talk about a restructuring or transformation of the Nordic welfare policy? Theoretically, the thesis is embedded in the comparative welfare state research and the concepts used in the contemporary welfare state discourse. Activation policy is analysed against the backdrop of the theories about the welfare state, welfare state governance and citizenship. Activation policies are also analysed in the context of the overall modernization and individualization of lifestyles and its implications for the individual citizen. Further, the different perspectives of the policy analysis are applied to determine the role of implementation and street-level practice within the whole. Empirically, the policy design, its implementation and the experiences of the welfare staff and recipients in Finland are examined. The policy development, goals and instruments of the activation policies have followed astonishingly similar paths in the different welfare states and regimes over the last two decades. In Finland, the policy change has been manifested through several successive reforms that have been introduced since the mid-1990s. The 2001 activation reform the Act on Rehabilitative Work Experience illustrates the broader trend towards stricter work requirements and draws its inspiration from the ideas of new paternalism. The ideas, goals and instruments of the international activation trend are clearly visible in the reform. Similarly, the reform has implications for the traditional Nordic social policies, which incorporate institutionalised social rights and the provision of services.
  • Backman, Ann (2006)
    I undersökning granskades hur personer i ledande positioner upplevde samspelet mellan arbete och familj. Undersökningen bestod av en kvantitativ undersökning med ett frågeformulär som skickades ut till medlemmar i statsvetarnas fackförbund SVAL. I undersökningen jämfördes kvinnors och mäns karriärengagemang, upplevelse av konflikt mellan arbete och familj samt upplevelse av stress. Syftet med studien var att undersöka hur familjelivet och arbetsrelaterade faktorer som t.ex. tidspress och psykisk arbetsbelastning inverkade på upplevelsen av stress. Studien sökte även svar på hur karriärengagemanget påverkade stress, samt om det förekom skillnader mellan könen. Undersökningen visade att både männen och kvinnorna i samplet upplevde att arbetet inkräktade på familjelivet. Männen i samplet upplevde främst arbetsrelaterade faktorer som tidsbrist och överbelastning som svårast. Kvinnorna upplevde enligt undersökningen främst att bristen på tid inkräktade på familjelivet. Karriärengagemanget hade inte en så stor inverkan, varken på den upplevda konflikten eller på stressen. När det gällde könsskillnader i stressupplevelsen kunde konstateras att det fanns en signifikant skillnad mellan könen. Kvinnorna i samplet upplevde mera stress än männen, dock kunde inte konflikten mellan arbete och familj eller karriärengagemang helt och hållet förklara orsakerna till det. Däremot verkade männens stress sammanhänga bra med den konflikt mellan arbete och familj samt den stress som de upplevde.