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  • Kalanti, Timo (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    "Body and Iron: Essays on the Socialness of Objects" focuses on the bodily-material interaction of human subjects and technical objects. It poses a question, how is it possible that objects have an impact on their human users and examines the preconditions of active efficacy of objects. In this theoretical task the work relies on various discussions drawing from realistic ontology, phenomenology of body, neurophysiology of Antonio Damasio and psychoanalysis to establish both objects and bodies as material entities related in a causal interaction with each other. Out of material interaction emerge a symbolic field, psyche and culture that produce representations of interactions with material world they remain dependent on and conditioned by. Interaction with objects informs the human body via its somatosensory systems: interoseptive and proprioseptive (or kinesthetic) systems provide information to central nervous system of the internal state of the body and muscle tensions and motor activity of the limbs. Capability to control the movements of one's body by the internal "feel" of being a body turns out to be a precondition to the ability to control artificial extensions of the body. Motor activity of the body is involved in every perception of environment as the feel of one's own body is constitutive of any perception of external objects. Perception of an object cause changes in the internal milieu of the body and these changes in the organism form a bodily representation of an external object. Via these "muscle images" the subject can develop a feel for an instrument. Bodily feel for an object is pre-conceptual, practical knowledge that resists articulation but allows sensing the world through the object. This is what I would call sensual knowledge. Technical objects intervene between body and environment, transforming the relation of perception and motor activity. Once connected to a vehicle, human subject has to calibrate visual information of his or her position and movement in space to the bodily actions controlling the machine. It is the machine that mediates the relation of human actions to the relation of her body to its environment. Learning to use the machine necessarily means adjusting his or her bodily actions to the responses of the machine in relation to environmental changes it causes. Responsiveness of the machine to human touch "teaches" its subject by providing feedback of the "correctitude" of his or her bodily actions. Correct actions form a body technique of handling the object. This is the way of socialness of objects. While responding to human actions they generate their subjects. Learning to handle a machine means accepting the position of the user in the program of action materialized in the construction of the object. Objects mediate, channel and transform the relation of the body to its environment and via environment to the body itself according to their material and technical construction. Objects are sensory media: they channel signals and information from the environment thus constituting a representation of environment, a virtual or artificial reality. They also feed the body directly with their powers equipping their user with means of regulating somatic and psychic states of her self. For these reasons humans look for the company of objects. Keywords: material objects, material culture, sociology of technology, sociology of body, mobility, driving
  • Berg, Päivi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    This study examines gender as a dimension of group divisions and differences in physical education (PE) lessons at school. The aim is to look at those structures and practices which direct the ways the girls and the boys move their bodies at secondary school in 2000’s while growing up to become women and men. Theoretically, the goal is to clarify how the social is inscribed to the bodies in the context of physical education lessons at school. This ethnographic study was conducted in the physical education lessons of 7th graders (13-14-year-olds) by observing the everyday life in five PE groups and by interviewing pupils (N=27) and their teachers (N=2). This method has given the researcher “a sense of the game”; an embodied experience of the feel for the game of the studied phenomenon. The access to the contextual “positions of expertise” does not seem to be socially and materially equally distributed in physical education. In PE the criteria of inclusion and exclusion were intertwined with physical skills and friendships, these hierarchies becoming visible in the situations of team choice in PE lessons. Not all families have possibilities to enable their children to participate in expensive leisure sports activities. Therefore the family’s societal position is in relation to the construction of leisure time activities. The access to certain possibilities demands time and money. In Finland the physical education is mainly carried out in differentiated groups for girls and boys. In physical education, the gender-differentiated groups, and partially the different practices of these groups activate, and on the other hand suppress, situations of gender related borderwork. In this research, both pupils and PE teachers repeatedly mentioned the naturality of the differences while speaking about gender. The differences were also restored to gender. I apply Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical view to the social situations, ethnographic fieldwork and interviews. My central statement is that in ethnography the audience has access to the backstage of the researcher since reporting does not follow the traditional division to the public and the private.
  • Ashrafun, Laila (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    This study is about domestic violence against women in Bangladeshi society. It delineates, in particular, why and how some women become the victims of domestic violence in the changing socio-economic setting of Bangladesh. I was inspired to carry out this study by the highlights and banner news from the daily newspapers, and writings of the scholars about the widespread events of domestic violence against women in Bangladesh. In the light of the news and studies I saw a need to sketch out an in-depth representation of domestic violence against economically and educationally underprivileged women in Bangladeshi society. The fieldwork of this study was carried out in two slums, and in a non-governmental counseling center in Sylhet, Bangladesh. I have relied on qualitative data and methods which I consider as the main strength of this study because it helps me to uncover the situation of the underprivileged young women in a meaningful context. In this study, I have tried to uncover the meaning, causes, coping strategies, resistance as well as effect of domestic violence in the lives of underprivileged women in Bangladeshi society. I have questioned women s agency and the struggle to problematize the position of women in gender relations, social, cultural, religious, and the legal arena. I have shown how women in the underprivileged class are vulnerable because of the prevailing family and social structure and are exposed to domestic violence. Focusing on domestic violence, I also examined why and how women tolerated and tried to solve informally domestic violence perpetrated against them by their husbands and other in-laws for a long time and why some women break the barriers and come to formal legal institutions to seek help. It is obvious from the study that underprivileged women s vulnerability is related to household insecurity which incarcerates the difficulties, experiences, and incidents of women s lives that expose them to violence. This study has sketched out how social-cultural and religious constraints include norms related to early marriage, the practice of purdah, dowry practices, unequal treatment between sons and daughters in the natal family, not having one s own permanent shelter, not getting property from one s father or not having property rights, a father s lack of land, obstacles to women working outside home, a preference for sons, social stigma related with marital separation or divorce. The analysis of the underprivileged women s life helped me to understand all these constraints as a whole mute the voice and limit the agency of young women both within their natal and marital homes. This makes striving for changes more difficult for women from a domestic violence free life, and capabilities for life improving decisions and steps. Domestic violence has moved from the privacy of the home into the light of the political and social arenas in Bangladesh. The issue has shifted focus from a particular man or woman relationship to the societal institutions or dominant ideology such as gender inequality, the varying constraints under which women and men live, the material, social, and the legal options that they access or mobilize. There is no doubt that poor victim women are slowly but steadily raising their muted voice and protesting against domestic violence but it has also become especially clear that, in order to compete for equal footing and establishment of rights, women need to acquire appropriate skills, improve their life situations and develop enough self-confidence. Still there are numerous problems with the legal systems in Bangladesh concerning women s issues in general and domestic violence in particular. The criminal laws and family laws, taken together, are insufficient and weak to solve women s problems when taking into account women s position and the prevalent structural barriers. I realized that the weakness of laws allow violent husbands and in-laws to find a way to escape compliance with them. In my opinion, the law alone is not capable of bringing social change and has less power to change peoples behaviors in gender relations and social practices for establishing human rights. Generally, in the societies people fear the law, legal procedures and punishment but only through fear it will not be possible to uproot violence, immorality and injustice against women. If domestic violence against women is to be stopped, strong law enforcement and state intervention are required. People should be informed and educated about the laws in informal way and cultured to practice the establishment of human rights to ensure meaningful everyday lives for all citizens.
  • Eränen, Liisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2001)
  • Oksanen, Annika (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    The objective of this qualitative study is to reveal the discursive reality of Finnish women, who have chosen to follow their husbands to expatriate assignments. The research material includes interviews of seventeen (17) Finnish housewives who lived in Singapore in 1999. The primary theoretical framework of the study is a social-constructive view, in which the reality is seen to have been constructed through meanings that create and maintain cultural practices, social roles and institutions. Gender is interpreted as produced socially, politically and in language. Human beings in the study exist as cultural and social beings with sex. An underlying assumption of the analysis is that the women in the study do not recognize their experience from their position that has been located to the prompt box in a play of expatriate assignment a role that is offered to them by the business sciences. Referring to Somers (1994) these women suffer of narrative silence as they lack public narratives that correspond to their circumstances. According to Williams (1983), an experience is an evidence of conditions. Therefore, the experiences of the women, who have followed their husbands to expatriate assignments, include information of their conditions. The analysis of the interview material has been performed in two phases: First, the women's experiences are identified from the research material. Thereafter, by means of discourse analysis the experiences are revealed analytically. This revealing process can also be regarded as an articulation of a counter-narrative. The research results can be found from three such discursive interpretations that are offered to the women and from eight such discursive interpretations that can be drawn from the women's own experiences. One of the discursive interpretations, which came out from the women's own experiences, is named as cultural dysphasia. In the study, cultural dysphasia is defined as a condition, in which the women have a difficulty in making their lived reality understood by others outside the sphere of their situation. Finnish women do not only lack public narrative, but the absence of a housewife-culture in Finland prevents them from any public narrative that would have a positive tone. To avoid dependence on the housewife concept, a woman's decision to follow her husband to an expatriate assignment is interpreted as a demonstration of solidarity to the relationship. In this connection, these Finnish women are re-named as 'siirtonainen' (Finnish, literally 'transfer woman'). This is the first scientific study to make visible the lived reality of Finnish women who have followed their husbands to expatriate assignments. The study will help the women in similar circumstances to find their marks among the current narratives. By reducing dichotomy between housewives and career women, which is damaging to women, and by creating the concept of 'siirtonainen' it will be possible to expand the cultural space of Finnish women. Finally, the study argues that a Finnish career woman, grown together with the imperative of self-support, has been lifted up as one symbol of modern Finland. Key words: expatriate research, experience, public narrative, narrative silence, cultural dysphasia, siirtonainen - transfer woman
  • Koponen, Anne Maarit (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    Life of children exposed to alcohol or drugs in utero This study focused on the growth environment, physical development and socio-emotional development of children, aged 16 and under, who had been exposed to alcohol (n=78) or drugs (n=15) in utero. The aim of the study was to obtain a comprehensive picture of the living conditions of these children and to examine the role of the growth environment in their development. The study was carried out using questionnaires, written life stories and interviews. Attachment theory was used as a background theory in the study. Over half of the children exposed to alcohol were diagnosed with foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), one quarter was diagnosed with foetal alcohol effects (FAE), and one fifth had no diagnosis. Most of the children exposed to drugs had been exposed to either amphetamines or cannabis, and a smaller number to heroin. Some of the children exposed to alcohol were mentally handicapped or intellectually impaired. The children exposed to drugs did not exhibit any serious learning difficulties but a considerable number of them had socio-emotional development problems. Language and speech problems and attention, concentration and social interaction problems were typical among both the children exposed to alcohol and those exposed to drugs. Only one child had been placed into long-term foster care in a family immediately after leaving the maternity hospital. In biological families there had been neglect, violence, mental health problems, crime and unemployment, and many parents were already dead. Two of the children had been sexually abused and four were suspected of having been abused. From the point of view of the children's development, the three most critical issues were 1) the range of illnesses and handicaps that had impaired their functional capacity as a result of their prenatal exposure to alcohol, 2) child's age at the time of placement on a long-term basis, and 3) the number of their traumatic experiences. The relationship with their biological parents after placement also played a role. Children with symptoms were found in all diagnosis categories and types of exposure. Children with the smallest number of symptoms were found among those who had never lived with their biological parents. Almost all children were exhibiting strong symptoms at the time of placement in foster care. In most cases, they were behaving in a disorderly manner towards others, but some children were withdrawn. The most conspicuous feature among those with the most severe symptoms was their disorganized behaviour. Placement in a foster family enhanced the children's development, but did not solve the problems. The foster parents who brought these children up did not receive as much therapy for the children and support for the upbringing as they appear to have needed. In Finland, transfer to long-term custody is based on strict criteria. The rights of children prescribed in the child protection law are not fulfilled in practice. Key words: FASD, FAS, FAE, alcohol exposure, drugs exposure, illegal drugs, early interaction, child development, attachment
  • Alho, Arja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2004)
  • Mikkola, Tuula (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Depending on you – A study of spousal care, everyday life and agency The present aim of the aging policy is to promote old peoples´ possibilities to live at their own home. It is also many elderly couples´ own wish. At home a persons spouse is the most natural care giver, if she or he is able to give care. Spousal care means living together, giving and receiving care and interdependency between the spouses. The aim of the policy is to support spousal care by paying financial support to a carer and arrang-ing formal home care services. The purpose of this research is to study the agency of care giving and receiving spouses as care givers and receivers and also as home care service users. The data of the study consist of the interviews of 21 elderly couples. Both spouses were interviewed seper-ately, with the exception of five couples who were interviewed together. In these inter-views a care receiver had difficulties in communicating by speaking and a spouse was her or his interpreter. The study is based on a social constructionistic and a discourse analytical view of con-struction of meanings in human communication. Talking is a social action: people achieve identities, realities, social order and social relationship through talking. In inter-pretating the spouses agency I have used of Harvey Sack´s method of Membership Categorization Device (MCD). The spouses construct social categories which made the meaning of their agency visible. Care changes the routines and actions of everyday life. The couples have to negotiate their duties and rights between each other. Care giving and receiving are both physical and emotional actions. In the end it becomes a part of the couples´ normal life. The pur-pose of couples´ action is to live together as long as possible. They want to strengthen both their own agency and their spouses´ agency. The living together depends on both of them. The spouses decided together what home care services they would like to use and on which conditions they have to use services. Spouses have different kind of agencies as service users which describe their relationship and confidency on formal home care support and services. Services must support the elderly couples´ shared life at home. They cannot be against the conditions on the spousal care. When you want to arrange services to elderly care giving and receiving couples, you have to consider their own wishes and the meanings of their own relationship and shared life.
  • Louheranta, Olavi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    The doctoral dissertation, entitled Siperiaa sanoiksi - uralilaisuutta teoiksi. Kai Donner poliittisena organisaattorina sekä tiedemiehenä antropologian näkökulmasta clarifies the early history of anthropological fieldwork and research in Siberia. The object of research is Kai Donner (1888-1935), fieldworker, explorer and researcher of Finno-Ugric languages, who made two expeditions to Siberia during 1911-1913 and 1914. Donner studied in Cambridge in 1909 under the guidance of James Frazer, A. C. Haddon and W. H. R. Rivers - and with Bronislaw Malinowski. After finishing his expeditions, Donner organized the enlistment of Finnish university students to receive military training in Germany. He was exiled and participated in the struggle for Finnish independence. After that, he organized military offensives in Russia and participated in domestic politics and policy in cooperation with C. G. E. Mannerheim. He also wrote four ethnographic descriptions on Siberia and worked with the Scandinavian Arctic areas researchers and Polar explorers. The results of this analysis can be sum up as follows: In the history of ethnographic research in Finland, it is possible to find two types of fieldwork tradition. The first tradition started from M. A. Castrén's explorations and research and the second one from August Ahlqvist's. Donner can be included in the first group with Castrén and Sakari Pälsi, unlike other contemporary philologists, or cultural researcher colleagues, which used the method of August Ahlqvist. Donner's holistic, lively and participant-observation based way of work is articulated in his writings two years before Malinowski published his thesis about modern fieldwork. Unfortunately, Donner didn't get the change to continue his researche because of the civil war in Finland, and due to the dogmatic position of E. N. Setälä. Donner's main work - the ethnohistorical Siberia - encloses his political and anthropological visions about a common and threatened Uralic nation under the pressure of Russian. The important items of his expeditions can be found in the area of cultural ecology, nutritional anthropology and fieldwork methods. It is also possible to prove that in his short stories from Siberia, there can be found some psychological factors that correlate his early life history.
  • Remes, Hanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    Social gradients in health, wherein each successive level of social position enjoys better health and lower mortality, have been observed in various health indicators within different societies. Social inequalities in infant and adult mortality are well documented, but previous findings on children, adolescents and young adults are less complete and less consistent. Death at a young age is increasingly rare in developed countries. Nevertheless, research on mortality can still provide valuable insights into health inequalities in that social differentials in ultimate health outcomes reflect differentials in many other acute and chronic health conditions that are more difficult to capture. The purpose of this study was to examine the social determinants of mortality at a young age. The findings are based on several measures of parental social background, and among older adolescents and young adults also on measures reflecting their own social position and current living arrangements. Extensive individual-level register data was obtained from Statistics Finland. Combining longitudinal population census and employment data from the period 1970 2007 with data on mortality and causes of death, the study data covered 80% of all deaths in 1990−2007. Social differentials in mortality in the age range 1−29 years were assessed in both absolute and relative terms, by calculating mortality rates and estimating Cox proportional hazards models. Mortality in childhood among both boys and girls was clearly associated with family type and parental socioeconomic factors. There were no differences in mortality between children in cohabiting-parent families and children of married parents, but children in single-parent families carried an excess risk. Both parental education and household income showed clear mortality gradients, with higher mortality among children of parents with lower levels of education and who earned less. The relationship between single parenthood and child mortality was, in fact, largely attributable to the associated low parental education and income. Mortality in late adolescence and early adulthood was higher among young men and women living in single- or cohabiting-parent families, as single parents themselves, alone, or with others than among those living in the parental home with married parents. Living independently with a partner was associated with lower mortality, especially among people in their late 20s. Following adjustment for childhood and current factors, the strongest excess mortality in early adulthood occurred among the less-highly educated and the non-employed. Leaving the parental home at a young age also remained an independent risk factor for premature death. The associations between parental social background and mortality were distinct but smaller, and were largely mediated by the current factors and age at leaving the parental home. Among children, social inequalities in mortality were strongest in early childhood, between the ages of one and four years, somewhat smaller between five and nine years, and with the exception of a weak association between mortality and parental education, non-existent at 10 14 years. Moreover, the associations between mortality and the current living arrangements and the main activity differed by age in late adolescence and early adulthood. The convergence of social differentials in mortality in late childhood, and their re-emergence in late adolescence related to changes in the most common causes of death during these life phases. Influenced by various factors, different causes of death are more or less likely to associate with social factors. Social differentials in mortality stemmed mostly from external causes, but deaths from diseases contributed to mortality differentials between the ages of one to four, and in early adulthood. Targeting support to high-risk groups in early childhood and in the transition to adulthood could prove to be effective in reducing health inequalities and preventing social exclusion not only among the young but also later in life.
  • Snell, Karoliina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    The object of the dissertation is to analyse the concept of social responsibility in relation to research and development of new biotechnology. This is done by examining the relevant actors – researchers, administrators, decision-makers, experts, industry, and the public – involved in the Finnish governance of biotechnology through their roles and responsibilities. Existing practises of responsibility in biotechnology governance, as well as the discourses of responsibility – the actors’ conceptions of their own and others responsibilities – are analysed. Three types of responsibility that the actors have assumed are formulated, and the implications of these conceptions to the governance of new biotechnology are analysed. From these different types of responsibility adopted and used by the actors, theoretical models called responsibility chains are constructed. The notion of responsibility is under-theorised in sociology and this research is an attempt to create a mid-range theory of responsibility in the context of biotechnology governance. The research aims to increase understanding of the governance system from a holistic viewpoint by contributing to academic debates on science and technology policy, public understanding of science, commercialisation of research, and corporate social responsibility. With a thorough analysis of the concept of responsibility that is derived from empirical data, the research brings new perspectives into these debates by challenging many normative ideas embedded in discourses. For example, multiple roles of the public are analysed to highlight the problems of consumerism and citizen participation in practise, as well as in relation to different policy strategies. The research examines also the contradictory responsibilities faced by biotechnology researchers, who balance between academic autonomy, commercialisation of research, and reflecting social consequences of their work. Industries responsibilities are also examined from the viewpoint of biotechnology. The research methodology addresses the contradictions between empirical findings, theories of biotechnology governance, and policies in a novel way, as the study concentrates on several actors and investigates both the discourses and the practises of the actors. Thus, the qualitative method of analysis is a combination of discourse and content analysis. The empirical material is comprised of 29 personal interviews as well as documents by Finnish and multinational organizations on biotechnology governance.
  • Hinkkanen , Reea (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    This study Someone to Welcome you home: Infertility, medicines and the Sukuma-Nyamwezi , looks into the change in the cosmological ideology of the Sukuma-Nyamwezi of Tanzania and into the consequences of this change as expressed through cultural practices connected to female infertility. This analysis is based on 15 months of fieldwork in Isaka, in the Shinyanga area. In this area the birth rate is high and at the same time infertility is a problem for individual women. The attitudes connected to fertility and the attempts to control fertility provide a window onto social and cultural changes in the area. Even though the practices connected to fertility seem to be individualized the problem of individual women - the discourse surrounding fertility is concerned with higher cosmological levels. The traditional cosmology emphasized the centrality of the chief as the source of well-being. He was responsible for rain and the fertility of the land and, thus, for the well-being of the whole society. The holistic cosmology was hierarchical and the ritual practices connected to chiefship which dealt with the whole of the society were recursively applied at the lower levels of hierarchy, in the relationships between individuals. As on consequence of changes in the political system, the chiefship was legally abolished in the early years of Independence. However, the holistic ideology, which was the basis of the chiefship, did not disappear and instead acquired new forms. It is argued that in African societies the common efflorence of diviner-healers and witchcraft can be a consequence of the change in the relationship between the social reality and the cosmological ideology. In the Africanist research the increase in the numbers of diviner-healers and witchcraft is usually seen as a consequence of individualism and modernization. In this research, however, it is seen as an altered form of holism, as a consequence of which the hierarchical relations between women and men have changed. Because of this, the present-day practices connected to reproduction pay special attention to the control of women s sexuality.
  • Muuri, Anu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    This research analyses opinions on the system of social welfare services from the point of view of clients and the public in general in Finland. The approach is quantitative, drawing on theories of the welfare-state tradition. The data used comes from the comprehensive Welfare and Services in Finland survey compiled by STAKES. While previous research on the welfare state has predominantly focused on surveying public opinion on social protection, this research focuses on social welfare services. The main focus of this research is on publicly funded care provided by municipal social welfare services. In this research, social welfare services include child day care, services for people with disabilities, home-help services, counselling by social workers and social assistance. The research considered in particular whether the clients or the population has different opinions towards social welfare services or social benefits. In addition, the research partly covers areas of informal care provided by family and friends. The research material consisted of the STAKES Welfare and Services in Finland survey. The data was compiled in 2004 and 2006 by Statistics Finland. The research comprises five articles. Additional data have been extracted from social welfare statistics and registers. Multiple approaches were applied in the survey on welfare and services the methods in this research included interviews by phone and mail, and register data. The sample size was 5 810 people in 2004 and 5 798 in 2006. The response rates were 82.7% and 83.7%, respectively. The results indicate that a large majority (90%) of the Finnish population is of the opinion that the public sector should bear the main responsibility for organising social and health services. The system of social welfare services and its personnel have strong public support 73% and 80% respectively. However, new and even negative tones have emerged in the Finnish debate on social welfare services. Women are increasingly critical of the performance of social welfare services and the level of social protection. Furthermore, this study shows that women more often than men wish to see an increase in the amount of privately organised social welfare services. Another group critical of the performance of social welfare services are pensioners. People who had used social welfare services were more critical than those who had not used them. Thus, the severest criticism was received from the groups who use and gain most from public services and benefits. However, the education and income variables identified in earlier studies no longer formed a significant dividing line, although people with higher education tend to foster a more positive view of the performance of social welfare services as well as the level of social protection. Income differences did not bear any significance, that is, belonging to a high or low income group was not a determining factor in the attitude towards social welfare services or social benefits. According to the research, family and friends still form an informal yet significant support network in people's everyday lives, and its importance has not been diminished by services provided by the welfare state. The Finnish public considers child day care the most reliable form of social welfare services. Indeed, child day care has become the most universal sector of our system of social welfare services. Other services that instil confidence included counselling by social workers and services for people with disabilities. On the other hand, social assistance and home-help services received negative feedback. The negative views were based on a number of arguments. One argument contends that the home-help service system, which was originally intended for universal use, is crumbling. The preventive role of home-help services has been reduced. These results mirror the increasingly popular opinion that social welfare services are not produced for all those who need them, but to an increasing extent for a select few of them. Municipalities are struggling with their finances and this, combined with negative publicity, has damaged the public's trust in some municipal social welfare services. A welfare state never achieves a stable condition, but must develop over time, as the world around it changes. Following the 1990's recession, we are now in a position where we can start to develop a system that responds to the needs of the next generation. Study results indicating new areas of dissatisfaction reflect the need to develop and improve the services provided. It is also increasingly essential that social welfare services pay attention to the opinions of clients and the public. Should the gap between opinions and actual activities increase, the legitimacy of the whole system would be questioned. Currently, the vast majority of Finns consider the system of social welfare services adequate, which provides us with the continuity required to maintain and improve client-oriented and reasonably priced social welfare services. Paying attention to the signals given by clients and the general public, and reacting to them accordingly, will also secure the development and legitimacy of the system in the future.
  • Juvonen, Tarja (Nuorisotutkimusverkosto/Nuorisotutkimusseura, 2015)
    This doctoral dissertation examines the construction of agency among young people on the threshold of adulthood who are, or risk being, socially excluded. Adolescence involves many choices and decisions that impact later life, such as leaving the parental home and transitioning to independent living, establishing financial independence, making decisions about education and careers, and starting a family. An essential part of adolescence is the pursuit of autonomy and finding one s place in the adult world and its social order. Adolescents who cannot attain these goals are easily rejected as non-adults who fail to meet social expectations for different age groups and life stages. This rejection has the effect of excluding them from full citizenship. Emerging adulthood is particularly challenging for adolescents living in vulnerable circumstances who feel they are not yet ready or able to make decisions about their life. The choices they must make may also involve options that adolescents find dissatisfactory or difficult to handle. This dissertation explores young people s agency from a relational perspective, emphasising the social and contextual basis of agency rather than its individualist foundation. The relational perspective relates to autonomous agency primarily because the construction of autonomy can require the context of human relationships and mutual dependency. In contrast, an emphasis on agency that stresses individuality and independence may engender feelings of loneliness and insecurity as well as of going through the motions of a life with no true sense of meaning. People who work with and support adolescents should also bear in mind that wellbeing depends substantially on the ability of individuals to connect with others. A lack of relationships and a feeling of loneliness characterise the lives of many socially excluded and disadvantaged people. The relational perspective is particularly obvious among those without relationships. This dissertation employs a constructionist philosophy and a relational viewpoint. It focuses on outreach work and, more broadly, the service network that strives to help young people. The research data comprise documents from 2001 on street-based youth work, recordings from the development seminar of a working group, interviews with young people encountered during outreach work in 2010 and 2011, the working group s focus group discussions and recorded client visits. The four scientific articles included in the dissertation use content analysis and the voice-centred relational method to consider the themes of control, the construction of autonomous agency and the concept of having-to as it pertains to young people. The first of the articles discusses elements of control in outreach work. The three other articles explore the theme of agency and the associated relational perspective. The second and third articles examine the construction of young people s autonomous agency, first in tense meetings with outreach workers and the authorities, and then from the perspective of the challenges of independent living. The fourth article analyses the construction of adolescents agency from the viewpoint of cultural expectations, particularly the concept of having-to. The results of the articles inform the concluding section, which addresses the two research questions: How is the autonomous agency of young people constructed in the tense relationship of social control, professional support and having-to, and how is the relational approach connected to the construction of young people s autonomous agency? The results demonstrate that various social structures and service systems provide a framework for the construction of agency, particularly among young people who are or risk being socially excluded. Even the most autonomous individual must deal with certain have-to s and is the subject of control through both societal and social relationships. Both control and culturally defined having-to are factors that define the limits of agency based on freedom and choices. As clients of outreach work, adolescents who are or risk being socially excluded must negotiate with various societal representatives about the limits of their autonomy and range of choices and must respond to the expectation of stronger agency. Young people s experience of their agency and place in the world depends partly on social ties, relationships and the various resources available to them. Strengthening the agency of young people encountered through outreach work requires long-term partnership and support to help them succeed in the challenging transition to adulthood, which is limited by having-to. Interaction in outreach work, the parties meetings or failures to meet each other, plays an important role. Those involved in such work have the power to profoundly affect young people s lives as well as their ideas of themselves and their significance. External compulsion or decisions made without the adolescents contribution do not improve their self-understanding or autonomous agency, which are important to any definition of a good life.
  • Tapola-Haapala, Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    In Finland, specialized studies in social work (professional licentiate education) were begun in the year 2000. The education is targeted at experienced social workers and leads to a licentiate degree (a degree between master s and doctorate). In this study, the experiences of members of the first study cohort, specializing in social work with children and young people, are examined. The study s theoretical frame of reference is based on the morphogenetic approach, developed by British sociologist Margaret Archer. In it, the potential powers of both an agent as well as social and cultural structures are considered important and worth taking into account. Archer sees reflexivity, a person s ability to analyze herself/himself, as an essential starting point for agency. Thanks to reflexivity, people are able to engage in internal conversations , discuss the concerns that are important to them and form agential projects . In Archer s theory, the social structures and traits of the cultural system are seen as having potential power in relation to people s agential projects; these powers can enable but also restrain the realization of the projects. On the other hand, individuals can try to review the factors affecting their agential projects and find ways of action that facilitate them. The research task is to study the self-understanding of social work professionals in the 21st century, the issues and goals professionally important for them, as well as the contexts framing the realization of these goals. The research questions are as follows: 1) What kind of internal conversations, concerns and agential projects related to their work did the professionals taking part in licentiate education bring to light? 2) What kind of enabling and restraining factors can be identified in their situations? And 3) What kind of social structures and traits related to the cultural system are connected to these factors? The research material was collected by interviewing the students in different phases of their education. In 2001 and 2004 all members of the study group (n = 25) were interviewed. In 2007, 13 students took part. The themes of the internal conversations brought to light in the interviews were divided into four broad thematic categories: professional development, the position of children in social work, multiprofessional work and structural social work. In relation to these themes the students formed different kinds of agential projects. In addition, the study reveals several cultural and social structures that have enabled but also restrained the realization of the agential projects. These structures are linked, for example, to the relations between employees and employers, students and teachers, children and adults as well as between the representatives of different professions. Working conditions which social workers often consider weak are discussed as a focal issue related to many themes. These working conditions become evident, for example, in the great imbalance which exists between the professional tasks and the amount of time that social workers have for them. Difficult situations arise when social workers feel they cannot reach the goals that are professionally important to them because of the strict external conditions of the work.