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  • Tiili, Minna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    This study explores strategic political steering after the New Public Management (NPM) reforms, with emphasis on the new role assigned to Government ministers in Finland. In the NPM model, politicians concentrate on broad, principal issues, while agencies have discretion within the limits set by politicians. In Finland, strategic steering was introduced with Management by Results (MBR), but the actual tools for strategic political steering have been the Government Programme, the Government Strategy Portfolio (GSP) and Frame Budgeting. This study addresses these tools as means of strategic steering conducted by the Cabinet and individual ministers within their respective ministries. The time frame of the study includes the two Lipponen Cabinets between 1995 and 2003. Interviews with fourteen ministers as well as with fourteen top officials were conducted. In addition, administrative reform documents and documents related to strategic steering tools were analysed. The empirical conclusions of the study can be summarised as follows: There were few signs of strategic political steering in the Lipponen Cabinets. Although the Government Programmes of both Cabinets introduced strategic thinking, the strategic guidelines set forth at the beginning of the Programme were not linked to the GSP or to Frame Budgeting. The GSP could be characterised as the collected strategic agendas of each ministry, while there was neither the will nor the courage among Cabinet members to prioritise the projects and to make selections. The Cabinet used Frame Budgeting mainly in the sense of spending limits, not in making strategic allocation decisions. As for the GSP at the departmental level, projects were suggested by top officials, and ministers only approved the suggested list. Frame Budgeting at the departmental level proved to be the most interesting strategic steering tool from ministers viewpoint: they actively participated in defining which issues would need extra financing. Because the chances for extra financing were minimal, ministers had an effect only on a marginal share of the budget. At the departmental level, the study shows that strategic plans were considered the domain of officials. As for strategies concerning specific substances, there was variation in the interest shown by the ministers. A few ministers emphasised the importance of strategic work and led strategy processes. In most cases, however, officials led the process while ministers offered comments on the drafts of strategy documents. The results of this study together with experiences reported in other countries and local politics show that political decision-makers have difficulty operating at the strategic level. The conclusion is that politicians do not have sufficient incentive to perform the strategic role implied by the NPM type of reforms. Overall, the empirical results of the study indicate the power of politics over management reforms.
  • Kaalikoski, Katri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2002)
  • Heinävaara, Sirpa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2003)
  • Ekholm, Elina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    The purpose of this study is to analyse education, employment, and work-life experiences of visually impaired persons in expert jobs. The empirical data consists of 30 thematic interviews (24 visually impaired persons, 1 family-member of a visually impaired person, 5 persons working with diversity issues), of supplementary articles, and of statistics on the socio-economic status of the visually impaired. The interviewees experiences of education and employment have been analysed by a qualitative method. The analysis has been deepened by reflecting it against the recent discussion on the concept of diversity. The author s methodological choice as a disability researcher has been to treat the interviewees as co-researchers rather than objects of research. Accessibility in its different forms is a prerequisite of diversity in the workplace, and this study examines what kind of accessibility is required by visually impaired professionals. Access to working life depends on the attitudes prejudices and expectations that society has towards a minority group. Social accessibility is connected with internal relationships in the workplace, and achieving social accessibility is a bilateral process. Information technology has revolutionised the visually impaired people s possibilities of accessing information and performing expert tasks. Accessible environment, good mobility skills, and transportation services enable visually impaired employees to get to their workplaces and to navigate there with ease. Integration has raised the level of education and widened the selection of career options for the visually impaired. However, even visually impaired people with academic degrees often need employment support services. Visually impaired professionals are mainly employed in the public and third sector. Achieving diversity in the labour market is a multiactor process. Social support services are needed, as well as courage and readiness from employers to hire people with disabilities. The organisations of the visually impaired play an important role in affecting the attitudes and providing peer support. Visually impaired employees need good professional skills, blindness skills, and social courage, and they need to be comfortable with their disability. In the workplace, diversity may actualise as diverse ways of working: the work is done by using technical aids or other means of compensating for the lack of eyesight. When an employee must find compensatory solutions for disability-related limitations at work, this will also develop his/her problem-solving abilities. Key words: visually impaired, diversity, accessibility, working life
  • Haikkola, Lotta (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    The study examines second generation young people s transnationalism and identity negotiations in the intersection of the transnational family networks, Finnish ethnic hierarchies and the constructed category of immigrant and local multi-ethnicity. The study asks how second generation young people build transnational ties and how the transnational context affects local identity negotiations. The study focuses on young people with diverse backgrounds in the multi-ethnic local contexts in Helsinki. Theoretically and methodologically the study builds on three approaches. Network analysis and mobilities-perspective (Mayer 1962, Olwig 2007, Sheller ET Urry 2006) are used to examine transnationalism. Childhood studies (James et al. 1998) is used to examining children s and young people s actions and perspectives. Identities are examined from an interactional boundary-making paradigm (Jenkins 2008, Wimmer 2009). The data consists of interviews with 29 young people aged 12 to 16. The twofold data comprises of personal networks and a thematic interview. First, the study examines the reproduction of the transnational relations. It shows that second generation does not straightforwardly reproduce their parents transnational ties, but have to build them from their own starting points. Return visits, in particular, are a means to negotiate transnationalism: reproduce social relations, feel belonging in the family and create a bond with the place of origin. Transnational networks can also shift geographically from the place of origin towards other destination countries where family or friends are based. Instead of measuring second generation young people s activities (e.g. Kasinitz 2008), the study proposes a contextual approach to second generation transnationalism. Regardless of youth s participation, transnationalism creates a multi-sited context, which structures second generation young people s identities and life chances. It can be ambiguous and provide conflicting frames and ideas. Not being able to connect tot the dispersed family can lead to feelings being an outsider in the family network and loss of support from the dispersed family. Secondly, the study examines identities within the context of the transnational family network, Finnish ethnic hierarchies, the constructed category of immigrant and local multi-ethnicity. In the local struggles young people either emphasize their ethnicity or create a collective identity of foreigner by distancing from Finnishness. Foreigness is not a marginalized identity, but rather a positive response to the categorizing power of the Finnish society. In the transnational context these struggles become more complicated. Young people either emphasize their ethnic minority identity in Finland, feel belonging both in Finland and the country of origin or create an identity connected to their transnational family network and the possibility to international travel inherent in the geographically dispersed family network. Transnational ties also provide both symbolic and discursive as well as concrete resources to combat the categorizing and marginalizing tendencies in Finland. Second generation new, hybrid ethnic identities are mostly considered empowering and combatting the local or national power structures as such. This study shows that they do reflect the more and more multicultural and diverse local world and their transnational context. However, they are created in response to the local hierarchies and ways of defining us and them . As such, they do not straightforwardly empower young people and challenge existing ethnic hierarchies. Identities emerge in an ongoing struggle for recognition and respect.
  • Näre, Lena (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    This study examines the private employment of migrant workers for domestic and care work, or paid reproductive labour, in southern Italy. Italy is a country where there has been a significant increase in demand for privately employed domestic and care workers, especially in elder care work. This demand is analysed in the context of the Italian gender regime, familistic welfare regime, and a migration regime that contributes to the existence of a large number of irregular migrants. The thesis is based on ethnographic research conducted in Naples, Italy in 2004 2005. During the fieldwork, migrant domestic and care workers from Sri Lanka, Ukraine and Poland were interviewed (N=74), as well Neapolitan employers (N=15) and participant observation conducted in various public places among the migrant communities and in private households employing cleaners and carers. The thesis, based on five original articles and a synthesis chapter, explores paid reproductive labour from a moral economy perspective on two accounts. Firstly, the economic and employment aspects of the work are obscured by an implicit moral contract, i.e. the expectation that workers should perform their job out of gratitude rather than for pay. Workers dependence on their employers is enforced by Italian migration legislation, which ties the stay permit to a work contract. Secondly, in order to offer a critical perspective to the social construction of domestic and care work as unvalued, unskilled and dirty , the research examines the importance of this labour for the reproduction of home as a complex sensory space. Contradictory to the most celebratory accounts of transnationalism and cosmopolitanism, the study demonstrates the constitutive role played by persisting borders and associated legislative practices of exclusion. Accordingly, questions such as work and residence permits, right to family reunification and access to welfare and health services underpin the rise of migrancy as an important social category defining the status of paid reproductive labour in the society as well as framing the workers livelihoods in a comparable way to other social categories. The research findings, which point to the striking parallels in the organisation of paid reproductive labour across historical times and geographical places, call into question the evolutionary idea of a Western modernisation, suggesting the need for a radical rethinking of what is meant and understood by development and modernisation within social sciences, as well as a rethinking of the tenets of neoliberal global economics.
  • Rasila, Antti (Helsingin yliopisto, 2005)
  • Kalalahti, Mira (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Positioned between social and public policy, sociology of education and educational sciences, this doctoral thesis focuses on the boundaries and limits that society, families and schools set for educational achievements. The thesis consists of four scientific articles and a summary that also contains supplementary analysis. The following two research questions are examined: (1) How do definitions of equality of opportunities change with time? and (2) How are school achievements connected to social position and experiences of social security in homes and schools? The youth study dimension of the thesis relies on the Health and Well-being in Youth − Comparison of 15-year-olds in Helsinki and Glasgow (HelGla) research project and the data that has been collected during the years 1998, 2004 and 2010. The questionnaire-based survey was targeted at 9th grade pupils (n ~ 2500 / data). This data is the main empirical corpus, where social position, school achievements and school experiences were analysed with statistical methods. The thesis is also part of the research project Parents and School Choice. Family Strategies, Segregation and School Policies in Chilean and Finnish Basic Schooling (PASC). The sociology of education dimension is framed using documentary data collected for this project by analysing discourses and practices concerning equality of educational opportunities. Changes in the opportunity structures in the thesis were uncovered by analysing the empirical and conceptual changes in the possibilities to choose schools. The analysis comes to the conclusion that there are two distinctive liberal interpretations of individual freedom of choice. Viewed from the comprehensive school choice policies, the education systems simultaneously promote educational rights and equal possibilities within the welfare liberalism and neoliberalism traditions. The associations between school achievements and family background are examined through the lens of school achievement. School achievement is analysed as a unity of educational orientation and habits that are emergent in school grades and attitudes towards school, and is associated with social position. First, in Pierre Bourdieu s conceptual terms, the associations between cultural capital ‒ the educational level of the parents in the thesis ‒ and school achievements is analysed. Second, the social position is analysed as social capital, especially following James Coleman s theory of social trust. The thesis concludes that school achievements associate with social hierarchies in many ways. Good achievement at school intertwines with both forms of capital. The odds of a young person having good school grades is tightly linked to the education level of his/her family, but a positive attitude towards school requires or can be also explained by strong social resources; i.e., a socially safe position to grow and develop.
  • Lindén, Carl-Gustav (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    The late 1990s was a time of strong economic growth in Finland and Sweden where two large companies, Nokia and Ericsson, ruled the world of telecom and brought considerable tangible and intangible benefits to their home countries. For business journalists their expansion became a source of thousands of stories explaining and celebrating their international success. But when the dot.com-bubble burst in early 2000 it also became obvious that behind this boom was another story of inflated stock market values, over-optimism and imminent structural change in the telecom market. This research focuses on how business journalists in Finland and Sweden compared Nokia with Ericsson in the first decade of the 2000s as this change took place. The research perspective is social constructionism and the thesis includes interviews with actors business journalists and corporate communicators as well as analysts to understand how they made sense of this development. The articles selected are treated as products of social interaction and their content analyzed as the result of negotiation influenced by the organizing principles of that engagement and manifested in frames. These frames are dealt with as a frame package, a master frame of national champions, Nokia against Ericsson. Of special interest is the narrative value of Nokia and Ericsson as representatives of the other, in this case the neighbour nation. This research points to major differences within the Finnish and Swedish socio-economic and cultural context. Since Nokia had no competitors for the position as a national champion it could engage with the press on its own terms while Ericsson, though powerful, did not have the same influence over journalists. As background factors there were also differences in the economic strengths of the companies, which were reflected in mediated public opinion, as well as strategic failures in corporate communication.
  • Hakkarainen, Minna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Abstract The study draws on the findings of previous ethnographic studies that picture development practice as a space of contestation in which actors engage with cultural values, history and the socio-political context in ways that create deviations from the project script . The study adds to the debate by approaching the contestation as taking place in language that reflects both existing realities and the discourses in which the actors are positioned. The study conceptualizes development practice as a process of construction of, and negotiating over, meanings. The selected approach suggests that the ambiguity of words that manifests itself in development practice is necessarily a part of development practice as actors simultaneously belong to different and sometimes contradictory contexts in which words are given their meanings. Through case studies of two types of development interventions(a Savings and Credit Intervention and a Village Self-reliance and Development Intervention) by a Finnish NGO in Vietnam, the study drawing from a Bakhtinian reading of aid practice inquires how contestation over meanings of terms central to the NGO s development thinking contribute to changes in the NGO s aid practice in relation to the promotion of gender and democracy. The study argues that multiplicity of meanings has important implications for aid practice and for donors agenda of democracy promotion in aid recipient countries. Promotion of democracy necessarily calls for deep contextual understanding as meanings, manifested in concrete utterances, are also contextual and therefore,may vary in ways that hinder or slow down project implementation. Furthermore,the study argues that non-responsive behaviour to development interventions may reflect prior experiences of unsatisfactory state-led development projects and people s understanding of them. Moreover, the study highlights the role of gendered norms and gender roles in Vietnamese society from the perspective of grassroots democracy promotion by showing how they affect women s access to formal decision making forums in villages. Keywords: development thinking, development practice, NGOs in development, language in development, democracy promotion, grassroots democracy, gender, gendered norms, Vietnam, meaning construction, heteroglossia, monologism, dialogical relationship, Bakhtinian reading.
  • Leppänen, Antti (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    This is an ethnographic study of the lived worlds of the keepers of small shops in a residential neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea. It outlines, discusses, and analyses the categories and conceptualizations of South Korean capitalism at the level of households, neighborhoods, and Korean society. These cultural categories were investigated through the neighborhood shopkeepers practices of work and reciprocal interaction as well as through the shopkeepers articulations of their lived experience. In South Korea, the keepers of small businesses have continued to be a large occupational category despite of societal and economic changes, occupying approximately one fourth of the population in active work force. In spite of that, these people, their livelihoods and their cultural and social worlds have rarely been in the focus of social science inquiry. The ethnographic field research for this study was conducted during a 14-month period between November 1998 and December 1999 and in three subsequent short visits to Korea and to the research neighborhood. The fieldwork was conducted during the aftermath of the Asian currency crisis, colloquially termed at the time as the IMF crisis, which highlighted the social and cultural circumstances of small businesskeeper in a specific way. The livelihoods of small-scale entrepreneurs became even more precarious than before; self-employment became an involuntary choice for many middle-class salaried employees who were laid off; and the cultural categories and concepts of society and economy South Korean capitalism were articulated more sharply than before. This study begins with an overview of the contemporary setting, the Korean society under the socially and economically painful outcomes of the economic crisis, and continues with an overview of relevant literature. After introducing the research area and the informants, I discuss the Korean notion of neighborhood, which incorporates both the notions of culturally valued Koreanness and deficiency in the sense of modernity and development. This study further analyses the ways in which the businesskeepers appropriate and reproduce the Korean ideas of men s and women s gender roles and spheres of work. As the appropriation of children s labor is conditional to intergenerational family trajectories which aim not to reproduce parents occupational status but to gain entry to salaried occupations via educational credentials, the work of a married couple is the most common organization of work in small businesses, to which the Korean ideas of family and kin continuity are not applied. While the lack of generational businesskeeping succession suggests that the proprietors mainly subscribe to the notions of familial status that emanate from the practices of the white-collar middle class, the cases of certain women shopkeepers show that their proprietorship and the ensuing economic standing in the family prompts and invites inversed interpretations and uses of common cultural notions of gender. After discussing and analyzing the concept of money and the cultural categorization of leisure and work, topics that emerged as very significant in the lived world of the shopkeepers, this study charts and analyses the categories of identification which the shopkeepers employ for their cultural and social locations and identities. Particular attention is paid to the idea of ordinary people (seomin), which shopkeepers are commonly considered to be most representative of, and which also sums up the ambivalence of neighborhood shopkeepers as a social category: they are not committed to familial reproduction and continuity of the business but aspire non-entrepreneurial careers for their children, while they occupy a significant position in the elaborations of culturally valued notions and ideologies defining Koreanness such as warmheartedness and sociability.
  • Smolej, Mirka (Oikeuspoliittinen tutkimuslaitos, 2011)
    Finland witnessed a surge in crime news reporting during the 1990s. At the same time, there was a significant rise in the levels of fear of crime reported by surveys. This research examines whether and how the two phenomena: news media and fear of violence were associated with each other. The dissertation consists of five sub-studies and a summary article. The first sub-study is a review of crime reporting trends in Finland, in which I have reviewed prior research and used existing Finnish datasets on media contents and crime news media exposure. The second study examines the association between crime media consumption and fear of crime when personal and vicarious victimization experiences have been held constant. Apart from analyzing the impact of crime news consumption on fear, media effects on general social trust are analyzed in the third sub-study. In the fourth sub-study I have analyzed the contents of the Finnish Poliisi-TV programme and compared the consistency of the picture of violent crime between official data sources and the programme. In the fifth and final sub-study, the victim narratives of Poliisi-TV s violence news contents have been analyzed. The research provides a series of results which are unprecedented in Finland. First, it observes that as in many other countries, the quantity of crime news supply has increased quite markedly in Finland. Second, it verifies that exposure to crime news is related to being worried about violent victimization and avoidance behaviour. Third, it documents that exposure to TV crime reality-programming is associated with reduced social trust among Finnish adolescents. Fourth, the analysis of Poliisi-TV shows that it transmits a distorted view of crime when contrasted with primary data sources on crime, but that this distortion is not as big as could be expected from international research findings and epochal theories of sociology. Fifth, the portrayals of violence victims in Poliisi-TV do not fit the traditional ideal types of victims that are usually seen to dominate crime media. The fact that the victims of violence in Poliisi-TV are ordinary people represents a wider development of the changing significance of the crime victim in Finland. The research concludes that although the media most likely did have an effect on the rising public fears in the 1990s, the mechanism was not as straight forward as has often been claimed. It is likely that there are other factors in the fear-media equation that are affecting both fear levels and crime reporting and that these factors are interactive in nature. Finally, the research calls for a re-orientation of media criminology and suggests more emphasis on the positive implications of crime in the media. Keywords: crime, media, fear of crime, violence, victimization, news
  • Andreev, Andriy (Helsingin yliopisto, 2000)
  • Garský, Salla (Salla Garský, 2014)
    This dissertation addresses the institutionalization of the International Criminal Court (ICC). In July 1998, the US suffered a diplomatic defeat as 120 states voted for the establishment of an ICC that is fairly independent from the United Nations. During the negotiations on the ICC, the US had tried to secure control over the new institution through, amongst other things, its veto power at the UN Security Council, but a coalition of states, steered by European countries, axed the plan. When the G. W. Bush Administration came into power, it started to prevent states from supporting the ICC with economic coercion. At the same time, the EU launched a global campaign for the universalization of the court. Scholars of international law and international relations tend to handle the ratification of human rights treaties as the discretion of a nation state. I argue that exogenous pressure exercised by the EU and the US influenced states commitment to the ICC. Hence, I explain the emergence of the ICC with a novel theoretical concept, normative binding. Normative binding is a foreign policy strategy that aims at tying down unilateral politics of actors that do not prefer to cooperate. The idea is to promote multilateral institutions, because they have the prospect to become binding even on unilateralist actors if the majority adheres to their rules and norms. I test the normative binding argument with qualitative and quantitative analysis and start with case studies on Germany, the US, and the EU. By using primary sources, I seek to answer the question: What explains the establishment of the ICC? With the method of process tracing, I create historical patterns and test the hypothesis of normative binding by contrasting it to alternative theoretical explanations. I find that due to generational changes and European integration, Germany, the aggressor of the WWII, has become a normative binder. US policy, in turn, has not changed much in the last 100 years and follows national interests that favor a selective approach to international justice. The EU s policy on the ICC developed as a response to the negative US stance. In addition to its successful coalition building during the negotiations on the ICC, the EU has employed normative binding tactics, in particular persuasion and issue-linkages, in its universal ratification campaign. The large-N quantitative analysis asks: What explains late ratifications to the Rome Statute? Qualitatively, I seek to answer the same question with case studies on an underanalyzed region, Southeast Asia. In the case studies on the Philippines and Indonesia, I test the hypothesis of exogenous pressure by systematically analyzing alternative explanations, e.g. legal and political factors, the human rights situation, norm diffusion, and common identities. I find that for years US coercion hindered the Philippines ratification and the EU s normative binding attempts had no real effect until US pressure eased. Once the Philippines joined the ICC, rational calculations guided the commitment as only a few months after the ratification the Philippines had something that it had desired for years: an international judge of its own. In Indonesia, the US and EU claims found little response. Indonesia s foreign policy agenda has traditionally emphasized state sovereignty and territorial integrity, values that do not fit well with the norms of the ICC. Thus, instead of promoting international justice, it preferred lucrative oil deals with Sudan. In general, the institutionalization of the ICC was a multifaceted process that constantly moved between international and national spheres: domestic actors shaped multilateral negotiations and when states considered committing to the ICC, international interests interfered. Thus, the emergence of international institutions should be examined with approaches that take into account both endogenous and exogenous influences.
  • Härkönen, Janne (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    The drinking culture in Finland has gone through profound changes over the last four decades. One explicit sign of transitions has been a nearly continuous increase in the total consumption of alcohol, which has three-folded since 1968. Increasing alcohol consumption has meant increase in various alcohol-related harms. Causes of death that are directly attributable to alcohol use are the leading cause of death among working aged men and women in Finland. In addition to harm to the drinker, excessive alcohol use results in various types of harms to others in the society through, e.g., drunk driving, family and other violence, child neglect etc. Because the developments in alcohol-related harms depend on changes in both the total consumption level and drinking patterns, a deeper understanding of the social determinants of these changes would be crucial for efforts to control development of harms from drinking. The aim of this study was to examine the changes in some central dimensions of the drinking culture in Finland over the past four decades. More specifically, it was studied: (1) What long-term changes have there been in the norms and attitudes towards drinking? (2) How have the contexts and characteristics of Finnish drinking occasions changed? (3) Does light and heavy drinking occasion drinking vary by socioeconomic status and has the relationship changed over time? (4) What kind of changes in the three temporal factors, age, period and cohort, underlie the temporal trends of drinking? The study was based on a survey data from six Finnish Drinking Habits Surveys, conducted between 1968 and 2008. They comprised a representative sample of the Finnish population aged 15 69 and the data-set consisted of 16,400 individuals. Attitudes towards moderate use of alcohol were found to been grown more permissive than ever over the past four decades. Alcohol policy opinions, however, were more varying: latest major endorsement for more relaxed alcohol policies was seen at the turn of the 1990s, while the major liberalizations of alcohol policies in 1969, 1995 and 2004 induced great concerns in the public. Drinking occasions in Finland have gone through two major transformations: in terms of the location, drinking has shifted towards homes, and in terms of the company, most of the drinking occasions are spent with a partner. In addition, drinking has concentrated on the weekends even more than before. For light drinking occasions and wine drinking, the general finding was that higher socioeconomic classes more often drink small amounts of alcohol at a time and wine drinking was substantially more frequent. For heavy episodic drinking and very heavy episodic drinking the direction of difference was found to be the opposite: manual workers more often drank large amounts of alcohol at a time. The analysis of age, period and cohort effects on drinking showed that the increase in alcohol consumption is affected by both period and cohort effects. Developments in light drinking were found to be quite similar across different cohorts over time, while there were great cohort differences in heavy episodic drinking. Heavy episodic drinking has increased systematically with more recent cohorts so that there has been no one wet generation but several wet generations comprising a wet nation.
  • Rahkonen, Keijo (Helsingin yliopisto, 1999)
  • Mäki, Netta (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    In Finland, the suicide mortality trend has been decreasing during the last decade and a half, yet suicide was the fourth most common cause of death among both Finnish men and women aged 15 64 years in 2006. However, suicide does not occur equally among population sub-groups. Two notable social factors that position people at different risk of suicide are socioeconomic and employment status: those with low education, employed in manual occupations, having low income and those who are unemployed have been found to have an elevated suicide risk. The purpose of this study was to provide a systematic analysis of these social differences in suicide mortality in Finland. Besides studying socioeconomic trends and differences in suicide according to age and sex, different indicators for socioeconomic status were used simultaneously, taking account of their pathways and mutual associations while also paying attention to confounding and mediatory effects of living arrangements and employment status. Register data obtained from Statistics Finland were used in this study. In some analyses suicides were divided into two groups according to contributory causes of death: the first group consisted of suicide deaths that had alcohol intoxication as one of the contributory causes, and the other group is comprised of all other suicide deaths. Methods included Poisson and Cox regression models. Despite the decrease in suicide mortality trend, social differences still exist. Low occupation-based social class proved to be an important determinant of suicide risk among both men and women, but the strong independent effect of education on alcohol-associated suicide indicates that the roots of these differences are probably established in early adulthood when educational qualifications are obtained and health-behavioural patterns set. High relative suicide mortality among the unemployed during times of economic boom suggests that selective processes may be responsible for some of the employment status differences in suicide. However, long-term unemployment seems to have causal effects on suicide, which, especially among men, partly stem from low income. In conclusion, the results in this study suggest that education, occupation-based social class and employment status have causal effects on suicide risk, but to some extent selection into low education and unemployment are also involved in the explanations for excess suicide mortality among the socially deprived. It is also conceivable that alcohol use is to some extent behind social differences in suicide. In addition to those with low education, manual workers and the unemployed, young people, whose health-related behaviour is still to be adopted, would most probably benefit from suicide prevention programmes.