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  • Collavin, Elena (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    This dissertation presents an analysis of the representations of food biotechnologies in Italy. The thesis uses the analysis of discourse to illustrate the articulated ways in which representations are instantiated in different contexts. The theoretical thrust of the work resides in its discussion of the basic tenets of both Social Representations Theory and Discursive Psychology. The thesis offers a detailed description of the two frameworks; affinities and difference are highlighted, and a serious effort is made to develop an integrated set of theoretical resources to answer the research questions. The thesis proposes to combine a discursive methodology with Social Representations Theory. After a description of the relevant legislative framework follows an illustration of the categories used for the textual analysis. The study proposes the textual analysis of the following data: the first declaration issued by a small Italian council rejecting biotechnologies; four texts which focus on positions taken by the Catholic Church in the matter of food biotechnologies; several transcripts from a public debate in a small community of the north west of Italy. The latter study, which included an ethnographic dimension, focuses on recordings from interviews, a focus group, a public meeting and newspaper articles. Particular attention is paid to ideological representations and to the relevance of citizenship and governance to debates about food biotechnologies.
  • Sottinen, Tommi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2003)
  • Krivy, Maros (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    The thesis analyses transformation of obsolete industrial space as a contested socio-spatial process of urban restructuring and examines the way 'culture' becomes a planning instrument of the transformation. The thesis studies social practices that have influenced the process and examines the main actors, conflicts, and perceptions of obsolete industrial space. The main argument is the following. Artistic practices challenged negative perceptions of obsolete industrial space and represented and practised it as a space of the everyday. The practices have recognized and defended obsolete space in its present reality of obsolescence and their success has influenced urban planning and policies. Artistic practices have been labelled as 'culture' and 'culture' has become a planning instrument of regenerating obsolete industrial spaces. Case studies of the Cable Factory and the Suvilahti in Helsinki and the influence of the former on the latter give empirical evidence to the argument. The main body of the thesis consists of four articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Drawing on discussions from critical economic geography, art history, and urban semiology, the first article analyses speculative redevelopment, conservation, and speculative conservation as ideal-typical practices of transforming obsolete industrial space. In these practices, obsolescence of industrial space is understood as a 'problem to be fixed'. The role of architecture as signifying a static notion of time is discussed. By representing architectural object as situated in the future or in the past, respectively, the analysed practices obscure social and political context of the architectural process. The second article presents a study of art works by Gordon Matta-Clark, Robert Smithson and Bernd and Hilla Becher and introduces the concept of negativity in industrial architecture. Rather than representing and practising obsolete industrial space as a 'problem to be fixed', these works acknowledge obsolete industrial space in its present reality of obsolescence. The notion of representing negativity in industrial space is theorized in contrast to representing obsolete space as 'negative'. The third article studies the Pro Kaapeli movement and its role in the transformation of the Cable Factory in Helsinki during the years 1989-1991. The conflict between the Helsinki city administration and the Pro Kaapeli is examined. Introducing the concept of empty space, the article studies how the Pro Kaapeli made use of the emptiness of obsolete industrial space. The Pro Kaapeli did not contest the perception of obsolete space as empty; rather, it contested the interpretation of emptiness as negative. The movement challenged the planned demolition and redevelopment of the factory by appealing to its emptiness, not to its use or function. For the Pro Kaapeli, the emptiness of space was not something to be 'fixed'. Empty space, in its emptiness, was accepted as the starting point in the spatial practice of continuous alterations. The fourth article is a case study of the ongoing transformation of Suvilahti in Helsinki. The transformation of the industrial premises of Suvilahti has been a planning project of the city of Helsinki and 'culture' has been the main instrument used. The article introduces the concepts of culture factory and cultural governmentality and examines the influence of the Cable Factory case on the planning of Suvilahti. The success of the Pro Kaapeli movement's defence of the Cable Factory contested negative perceptions of obsolete industrial spaces, but, unintentionally, it laid foundation for using 'culture' as an instrument of regenerating the obsolete spaces. Spontaneous practices of the Pro Kaapeli have been recognized as 'culture' and 'culture' has been employed as a planning instrument in the regeneration of the Suvilahti. The article discusses culture factory as a model of regenerated obsolete industrial space, which is the objective of planning in the Suvilahti. The planners encourage spontaneous 'cultural' practices for their perceived effects on regenerating obsolete industrial space. A form of planning practice that withdraws from planning the content of culture and instead plans or wishes for the social and urban effects of culture is conceptualized as cultural governmentality.
  • Portman, Anneli (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    This study looked at the values expressed in rulers’ (Czars and Presidents) public speeches in Finland from 1809-2000. Society’s values are manifested and upheld also through rituals and ceremonies, e.g. recurring public speeches. These speeches are most often held by the head of state, acting as a spokesperson for the entire society. Three types of written collections of speeches (N=355) directed to the entire population were used: Parliament Opening Speeches (1809-2000), Prayer Day Declarations (1812-1999) and New Year’s Speeches (1935-2000). The texts were analyzed using qualitative theory-driven content analysis. For the analysis a coding manual was created, which was based on Schwartz’ Theory of Basic Human Values and on previous Finnish value research. The results show that rulers present themselves as promoters of the society’s goals; they also act as creators and protectors of societal cohesion, which results in the emphasis on Self-transcendence and Conservation values. Towards the end of the time included in this study there is a marked rise in Universalism values, as questions of nature conservation and maintenance of global peace come to the forefront of the larger political agenda. Overall changes of values in the data follow the predicted pattern of societal pluralization, but not of secularization. The findings confirm the applicability of the survey-based Schwartz Value Theory also for archival value research. However, the findings also demonstrate that the two value types found in previous Finnish studies (Spirituality, Work-related values) are also necessary to depict the promoted values. Contrary to the theory-based expectations, Self-enhancement values and Self-direction values are only presented as values for the collective, not the individual. The Czars and Presidents mostly differ on the scope of their value emphasis. In their speeches the Czars emphasize values relating to spirituality, and to the in-group and its welfare. The Presidents, appeal to a wider variety of values, reflecting more the contemporary political situations, e.g. Work-related values are accentuated especially in the times of crisis (e.g. war, recession). The results of this study underline the importance of the context in value research, and contribute to the widening of value research into political and archival data. This study adds to the research of how societal cohesion is rhetorically maintained. This thesis bridges social psychology and political history, thus also adding to historical research, but results can also be applied in larger societal context to better understand the links between leaders and their followers, be they democratic rulers or not.
  • Konkka, Jyrki (Helsingin yliopisto, 2000)
  • Larjavaara, Ilmari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    Functional transition theory: administration, legal order and institutions in Russia This dissertation examines some of the salient characteristics of Russia that are deemed to have impeded the growth of its economy and investments in particular. These characteristics are the volatility of the administrative and legal systems, corruption, and the perceived irrationality and difference in the operating environment in comparison with European conditions. The dissertation is one of the first studies on Russia that approaches the subject from the perspective of comprehensive social scientific theories. The study is based on the structural functionalistic theory, which is widely used in the social sciences. Adopting a sufficiently ambitious theoretical examination will provide a systematic and logical explanation of the characteristics of Russian institutions and ways of operations, such as corruption, that are commonly perceived as inexplicable. The approach adopted in the dissertation sheds light on the history of Russia's development and provides a comparative view of other societies in transition. Furthermore, it suggests recommendations as to how the structures of Russian society could be comprehensively strengthened.
  • Kuparinen, Anna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    The future use of genetically modified (GM) plants in food, feed and biomass production requires a careful consideration of possible risks related to the unintended spread of trangenes into new habitats. This may occur via introgression of the transgene to conventional genotypes, due to cross-pollination, and via the invasion of GM plants to new habitats. Assessment of possible environmental impacts of GM plants requires estimation of the level of gene flow from a GM population. Furthermore, management measures for reducing gene flow from GM populations are needed in order to prevent possible unwanted effects of transgenes on ecosystems. This work develops modeling tools for estimating gene flow from GM plant populations in boreal environments and for investigating the mechanisms of the gene flow process. To describe spatial dimensions of the gene flow, dispersal models are developed for the local and regional scale spread of pollen grains and seeds, with special emphasis on wind dispersal. This study provides tools for describing cross-pollination between GM and conventional populations and for estimating the levels of transgenic contamination of the conventional crops. For perennial populations, a modeling framework describing the dynamics of plants and genotypes is developed, in order to estimate the gene flow process over a sequence of years. The dispersal of airborne pollen and seeds cannot be easily controlled, and small amounts of these particles are likely to disperse over long distances. Wind dispersal processes are highly stochastic due to variation in atmospheric conditions, so that there may be considerable variation between individual dispersal patterns. This, in turn, is reflected to the large amount of variation in annual levels of cross-pollination between GM and conventional populations. Even though land-use practices have effects on the average levels of cross-pollination between GM and conventional fields, the level of transgenic contamination of a conventional crop remains highly stochastic. The demographic effects of a transgene have impacts on the establishment of trangenic plants amongst conventional genotypes of the same species. If the transgene gives a plant a considerable fitness advantage in comparison to conventional genotypes, the spread of transgenes to conventional population can be strongly increased. In such cases, dominance of the transgene considerably increases gene flow from GM to conventional populations, due to the enhanced fitness of heterozygous hybrids. The fitness of GM plants in conventional populations can be reduced by linking the selectively favoured primary transgene to a disfavoured mitigation transgene. Recombination between these transgenes is a major risk related to this technique, especially because it tends to take place amongst the conventional genotypes and thus promotes the establishment of invasive transgenic plants in conventional populations.
  • Myrskylä, Mikko (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    This study examines the properties of Generalised Regression (GREG) estimators for domain class frequencies and proportions. The family of GREG estimators forms the class of design-based model-assisted estimators. All GREG estimators utilise auxiliary information via modelling. The classic GREG estimator with a linear fixed effects assisting model (GREG-lin) is one example. But when estimating class frequencies, the study variable is binary or polytomous. Therefore logistic-type assisting models (e.g. logistic or probit model) should be preferred over the linear one. However, other GREG estimators than GREG-lin are rarely used, and knowledge about their properties is limited. This study examines the properties of L-GREG estimators, which are GREG estimators with fixed-effects logistic-type models. Three research questions are addressed. First, I study whether and when L-GREG estimators are more accurate than GREG-lin. Theoretical results and Monte Carlo experiments which cover both equal and unequal probability sampling designs and a wide variety of model formulations show that in standard situations, the difference between L-GREG and GREG-lin is small. But in the case of a strong assisting model, two interesting situations arise: if the domain sample size is reasonably large, L-GREG is more accurate than GREG-lin, and if the domain sample size is very small, estimation of assisting model parameters may be inaccurate, resulting in bias for L-GREG. Second, I study variance estimation for the L-GREG estimators. The standard variance estimator (S) for all GREG estimators resembles the Sen-Yates-Grundy variance estimator, but it is a double sum of prediction errors, not of the observed values of the study variable. Monte Carlo experiments show that S underestimates the variance of L-GREG especially if the domain sample size is minor, or if the assisting model is strong. Third, since the standard variance estimator S often fails for the L-GREG estimators, I propose a new augmented variance estimator (A). The difference between S and the new estimator A is that the latter takes into account the difference between the sample fit model and the census fit model. In Monte Carlo experiments, the new estimator A outperformed the standard estimator S in terms of bias, root mean square error and coverage rate. Thus the new estimator provides a good alternative to the standard estimator.
  • Wass, Hanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    The relationship between age and turnout has been curve-linear as electoral participation first increases with age, remains relatively stable throughout middle-age and then gradually declines as certain physical infirmities set in (see e.g. Milbrath 1965). Alongside this life-cycle effect in voting, recent pooled cross-sectional analyses (see e.g. Blais et al. 2004; Lyons and Alexander 2000) have shown that there is also a generational effect, referring to lasting differences in turnout between various age groups. This study firstly examines the extent to which the generational effect applies in the Finnish context. Secondly, it investigates the factors accounting for that effect. The first article, based on individual-level register data from the parliamentary elections of 1999, shows that turnout differences between the different age groups would be even larger if there were no differences in social class and education. The second article examines simultaneously the effects of age, generation and period in the Finnish parliamentary elections of 1975-2003 based on pooled data from Finnish voter barometers (N = 8,634). The results show that there is a clear life cycle, generational and period effect. The third article examines the role of political socialisation in accounting for generational differences in electoral participation. Political socialisation is defined as the learning process in which an individual adopts various values, political attitudes, and patterns of actions from his or her environment. The multivariate analysis, based on the Finnish national election study 2003 (N=1,270), indicated that if there were no differences in socialisation between the youngest and the older generations, the difference in turnout would be much larger than if only sex and socioeconomic factors are controlled for. The fourth article examines other possible factors related to generational effect in voting. The results mainly apply to the Finnish parliamentary elections of 2003 in which we have data available. The results show that the sense of duty by far accounts for the generational effect in voting. Political interest, political knowledge and non-parliamentary participation also narrowed the differences in electoral participation between the youngest and the second youngest generations. The implication of the findings is that the lower turnout among the current youth is not a passing phenomenon that will diminish with age. Considering voting a civic duty and understanding the meaning of collective action are both associated with the process of political socialisation which therefore has an important role concerning the generational effect in turnout.
  • Onkamo, Päivi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2002)
  • Jallinoja, Piia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2002)
  • Laako, Hanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    This study explores the meaning, content and significance of the political as manifest in the Mexican Zapatista movement as historically and geopolitically situated struggle. The case study undertakes a critical analysis of the development, organization, practice and discourse of the movement by drawing on fieldwork experiences, interviews, discussions, documents, films and other material produced by the movement, and the critical engagement with the research of others, especially in Latin America and Mexico. The dissertation poses the need to reconsider what constitutes and what we understand by the political , related particularly to the challenges provided by the critical globalization literature, decolonization and the study of social movements. The analysis encompasses several inter-related levels: the theoretical knowledge regarding the conceptualization of the political; the methodological level, regarding how such research can and should be conducted and knowledge claims formulated given the inescapable context and effects of global power relations; and the substantive level of adding specific information and analytical insights to existing knowledge of the Zapatista movement. As a result of conceptualization of a range of practices and processes, distinct understandings of the political can be underlined. Firstly, the conception of the indigenous and the struggles as indigenous movements as specifically political, not just a cultural or ethnic identity or a static quality but rather, an active consciousness integrally linked both to a longer history of oppression and as political articulation in the concrete context and lived experience of contemporary struggle. Secondly, the practice of autonomy as central to an understanding of the political in the context of the Zapatista struggle as a practical response to the situation of oppression, counter-insurgency, siege and conflict in Chiapas, as well as a positively informed mode of political self-understanding, expression and practice in its own right. Thirdly, the notion of geopolitical positioning as important to understanding of the political that encompasses the historicity of specific context and the power relations which shape that context, developed in two different ways: in regard to the positioning of the researcher and knowledge production with and about the Zapatistas, and in regard to the practice and knowledge of the Zapatistas as a decolonizing force in their encounters, interaction and relations with others, especially the global civil society. Finally, the role of silence, absence, invisibility, revelation and hiding in political practice as a deliberate strategy in response to oppressive power. -
  • Ådahl, Susanne (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    This is an ethnographic study, in the field of medical anthropology, of village life among farmers in southwest Finland. It is based on 12 months of field work conducted 2002-2003 in a coastal village. The study discusses how social and cultural change affects the life of farmers, how they experience it and how they act in order to deal with the it. Using social suffering as a methodological approach the study seeks to investigate how change is related to lived experiences, idioms of distress, and narratives. Its aim has been to draw a locally specific picture of what matters are at stake in the local moral world that these farmers inhabit, and how they emerge as creative actors within it. A central assumption made about change is that it is two-fold; both a constructive force which gives birth to something new, and also a process that brings about uncertainty regarding the future. Uncertainty is understood as an existential condition of human life that demands a response, both causing suffering and transforming it. The possibility for positive outcomes in the future enables one to understand this small suffering of everyday life both as a consequence of social change, which fragments and destroys, and as an answer to it - as something that is positively meaningful. Suffering is seen to engage individuals to ensure continuity, in spite of the odds, and to sustain hope regarding the future. When the fieldwork was initiated Finland had been a member of the European Union for seven years and farmers felt it had substantially impacted on their working conditions. They complained about the restrictions placed on their autonomy and that their knowledge was neither recognised, nor respected by the bureaucrats of the EU system. New regulations require them to work in a manner that is morally unacceptable to them and financial insecurity has become more prominent. All these changes indicate the potential loss of the home and of the ability to ensure continuity of the family farm. Although the study initially focused on getting a general picture of working conditions and the nature of farming life, during the course of the fieldwork there was repeated mention of a perceived high prevalence of cancer in the area. This cancer talk is replete with metaphors that reveal cultural meanings tied to the farming life and the core values of autonomy, endurance and permanence. It also forms the basis of a shared identity and a means of delivering a moral message about the fragmentation of the good life; the loss of control; and the invasion of the foreign. This thesis formed part of the research project Expressions of Suffering. Ethnographies of Illness Experiences in Contemporary Finnish Contexts funded by the Academy of Finland. It opens up a vital perspective on the multiplicity and variety of the experience of suffering and that it is particularly through the use of the ethnographic method that these experiences can be brought to light. Keywords: suffering, uncertainty, phenomenology, habitus, agency, cancer, farming
  • Toikka, Arho (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Governance has been one of the most popular buzzwords in recent political science. As with any term shared by numerous fields of research, as well as everyday language, governance is encumbered by a jungle of definitions and applications. This work elaborates on the concept of network governance. Network governance refers to complex policy-making situations, where a variety of public and private actors collaborate in order to produce and define policy. Governance is processes of autonomous, self-organizing networks of organizations exchanging information and deliberating. Network governance is a theoretical concept that corresponds to an empirical phenomenon. Often, this phenomenon is used to descirbe a historical development: governance is often used to describe changes in political processes of Western societies since the 1980s. In this work, empirical governance networks are used as an organizing framework, and the concepts of autonomy, self-organization and network structure are developed as tools for empirical analysis of any complex decision-making process. This work develops this framework and explores the governance networks in the case of environmental policy-making in the City of Helsinki, Finland. The crafting of a local ecological sustainability programme required support and knowledge from all sectors of administration, a number of entrepreneurs and companies and the inhabitants of Helsinki. The policy process relied explicitly on networking, with public and private actors collaborating to design policy instruments. Communication between individual organizations led to the development of network structures and patterns. This research analyses these patterns and their effects on policy choice, by applying the methods of social network analysis. A variety of social network analysis methods are used to uncover different features of the networked process. Links between individual network positions, network subgroup structures and macro-level network patterns are compared to the types of organizations involved and final policy instruments chosen. By using governance concepts to depict a policy process, the work aims to assess whether they contribute to models of policy-making. The conclusion is that the governance literature sheds light on events that would otherwise go unnoticed, or whose conceptualization would remain atheoretical. The framework of network governance should be in the toolkit of the policy analyst.
  • Kosonen, Liisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    This study was a longitudinal quantitative study of the acculturation, psychological well-being and sociocultural adaptation of Vietnamese arriving in Finland in 1979 to 1991 as children and adolescents. The first phase was carried out in 1992 on a random nation-wide sample of 97 Vietnamese comprehensive school students, matched with Finnish classmates and a follow-up of 59 of the original Vietnamese participants, now aged 20 – 31, took place in 2004. The aim of this study was to establish the causal effects of important predictors of acculturation outcomes, while duly acknowledging the impact of age and context on psychological well-being and sociocultural adaptation. Individual acculturation dimensions (language, values and identity) were found to be more significant for psychological well-being and sociocultural adaptation than ethnic, national, or bicultural profiles that were composites of the relevant languages, values and identities. Identity change occurred in the (ethnic) Vietnamese direction over time, while value change occurred in the (national) Finnish direction. Language proficiency in both Finnish and Vietnamese increased over time with favorable impacts on both psychological well-being and sociocultural adaptation. Initial psychological well-being predicted well-being (depression and self-esteem) as an adult, but sociocultural adaptation (school achievement) as a child or adolescent did not predict educational attainment as an adult. The greater Finnish proficiency as an adult, not having been depressed in childhood or adolescence, perceiving less discrimination as a child or adolescent, and identifying less as Finnish as an adult distinguished those with better psychological well-being (not depressed) in adulthood from those who were depressed. In predicting greater educational attainment in adulthood, perceiving less discrimination as a child or adolescent, on the one hand, and better Finnish language proficiency as an adult, more adherence to national (Finnish) independence values as an adult, but less of a Finnish identity as an adult, on the other hand, were the most important factors. The significance of perceived discrimination, especially in childhood and adolescence, for psychological well-being, as well as for long-term effects on both psychological well-being and sociocultural adaptation as an adult, shows the need for early psychological intervention and for policies focusing on improving inter-group relations. Key words: acculturation, psychological well-being, sociocultural adaptation, language, values, identity, Vietnamese, Finland, children, adolescents, young adults
  • Perälä, Riikka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    The implementation of a drug policy based on the harm reduction ideology was started in Finland at the turn of the millennium, in addition to the restrictive drug policy implemented traditionally. The first health conseling service for injecting drug users, based on the harm reduction approach, was opened in the capital region in 1997. The start of the activities was a response to the social and health authorities' concern in Finland in the 1990s, especially about the spread of bloodborne contagious diseases, HIV and hepatitis, related to injecting drug use. What was new and exceptional about the activities of the health counseling services was that they were particularly aimed at active drug users. In order to come and receive services there, the users did not have to commit themselves to stopping drug use, nor even to present any plans on those lines. Currently, the harm reduction policy has been carried out in Finnish health counseling services for almost fifteen years. The activity has become a central part of Finnish social and health services, but simultaneously various stereotypical notions, e.g. of approving of drug use and maintaining the drug problem, are still related to the activity. So far it has not been clear what type of help the drug users actually receive at the services and what significance the activity has generally had in trying to control problems related to drug use. In this research, the work done in health counseling services and the practices of the harm reducing policy generally have been approached by participating in the activities within the policy and studying them from a close distance. Thus, the idea has been to diversify the conceptions of the significance of the harm reduction policy as a control strategy directed on drug users. The qualitative research material consisting of client and employee interviews and observational notes was gathered in 2003-2007 at a health counseling service in Southern Finland and around the activities by using the etnographic research method. The results of the research show that health counseling services and the harm reduction policy implemented in them have become a significant part of the everyday lives of many problem drug users. At the services, the users receive help and support that is not available elsewhere in society. Both the employees and the visiting clients consider the work in the services more extensive than the agenda of the traditional harm reduction policy: for instance, elements of social and healthcare work play an essential part in the work done at the service, and the services also have a clear connection to the activities elsewhere in the service system. The services have also managed to create new kinds of ways to deal with the drug problem which the clients as well as the employees endorse. The harm reduction policy implemented in Finland is therefore a positive example of significantly increasing the social confidence of a population group that is socially quite excluded, and often even "demonized", by working methods that listen to them and activate them. This should also be considered in future when planning similar interventions. However, the relationship of the health counseling activities to their environment has tensions, and the authorities, for example, often have a narrow perception of the activity as the exchange of syringes and needles. This, in turn, complicates the successful inclusion of the innovative procedures dominant in the policy into practices of the Finnish drug policy and treatment. On a theoretical level, the research goes over a research discourse on the forms of social governance typical today. In this respect, the research enriches the recent analyses of governing by highlighting examples of the possibilites of opposition to governance as well as of the new forms of collective action and solidarity available in the prevalent ways of governance.
  • Autio, Petra (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    Hard Custom, Hard Dance: Social Organisation, (Un)Differentiation and Notions of Power in a Tabiteuean Community, Southern Kiribati is an ethnographic study of a village community. This work analyses social organisation on the island of Tabiteuea in the Micronesian state of Kiribati, examining the intertwining of hierarchical and egalitarian traits, meanwhile bringing a new perspective to scholarly discussions of social differentiation by introducing the concept of undifferentiation to describe non-hierarchical social forms and practices. Particular attention is paid to local ideas concerning symbolic power, abstractly understood as the potency for social reproduction, but also examined in one of its forms; authority understood as the right to speak. The workings of social differentiation and undifferentiation in the village are specifically studied in two contexts connected by local notions of power: the meetinghouse institution (te maneaba) and traditional dancing (te mwaie). This dissertation is based on 11 months of anthropological fieldwork in 1999‒2000 in Kiribati and Fiji, with an emphasis on participant observation and the collection of oral tradition (narratives and songs). The questions are approached through three distinct but interrelated topics: (i) A key narrative of the community ‒ the story of an ancestor without descendants ‒ is presented and discussed, along with other narratives. (ii) The Kiribati meetinghouse institution, te maneaba, is considered in terms of oral tradition as well as present-day practices and customs. (iii) Kiribati dancing (te mwaie) is examined through a discussion of competing dance groups, followed by an extended case study of four dance events. In the course of this work the community of close to four hundred inhabitants is depicted as constructed primarily of clans and households, but also of churches, work co-operatives and dance groups, but also as a significant and valued social unit in itself, and a part of the wider island district. In these partly cross-cutting and overlapping social matrices, people are alternatingly organised by the distinct values and logic of differentiation and undifferentiation. At different levels of social integration and in different modes of social and discursive practice, there are heightened moments of differentiation, followed by active undifferentiation. The central notions concerning power and authority to emerge are, firstly, that in order to be valued and utilised, power needs to be controlled. Secondly, power is not allowed to centralize in the hands of one person or group for any long period of time. Thirdly, out of the permanent reach of people, power/authority is always, on the one hand, left outside the factual community and, on the other, vested in community, the social whole. Several forms of differentiation and undifferentiation emerge, but these appear to be systematically related. Social differentiation building on typically Austronesian complementary differences (such as male:female, elder:younger, autochtonous:allotochtonous) is valued, even if eventually restricted, whereas differentiation based on non-complementary differences (such as monetary wealth or level of education) is generally resisted, and/or is subsumed by the complementary distinctions. The concomitant forms of undifferentiation are likewise hierarchically organised. On the level of the society as a whole, undifferentiation means circumscribing and ultimately withholding social hierarchy. Potential hierarchy is both based on a combination of valued complementary differences between social groups and individuals, but also limited by virtue of the undoing of these differences; for example, in the dissolution of seniority (elder-younger) and gender (male-female) into sameness. Like the suspension of hierarchy, undifferentiation as transformation requires the recognition of pre-existing difference and does not mean devaluing the difference. This form of undifferentiation is ultimately encompassed by the first one, as the processes of the differentiation, whether transformed or not, are always halted. Finally, undifferentiation can mean the prevention of non-complementary differences between social groups or individuals. This form of undifferentiation, like the differentiation it works on, takes place on a lower level of societal ideology, as both the differences and their prevention are always encompassed by the complementary differences and their undoing. It is concluded that Southern Kiribati society be seen as a combination of a severely limited and decentralised hierarchy (differentiation) and of a tightly conditional and contextual (intra-category) equality (undifferentiation), and that it is distinctly characterised by an enduring tension between these contradicting social forms and cultural notions. With reference to the local notion of hardness used to characterise custom on this particular island as well as dance in general, it is argued in this work that in this Tabiteuean community some forms of differentiation are valued though strictly delimited or even undone, whereas other forms of differentiation are a perceived as a threat to community, necessitating pre-emptive imposition of undifferentiation. Power, though sought after and displayed - particularly in dancing - must always remain controlled.