sosiologia

Abstracts 2009

Sosiologia Volume 46, Number 4, 2009

Mind in social interaction

Anssi Peräkylä, Professor, PhD, Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki

The article looks into the role of mind and mindrelated phenomena in the research on social interaction. Within what is here called the constructionist sociology of the mind, the mind is seen as an epiphenomenal entity: references to mind by the participants of an interaction serve their interactional projects and goals, such as legitimisation of their actions or criticism of the actions of others. This article looks for alternatives to this view, and one such alternative is provided by the research programme delineated by Stephen Levinson in his recent writings, which could be called the micro-sociology of mind-reading. By combining conversation analytical studies of interaction and the psychological research tradition on “theory of mind”, Levinson comes up with a theory that shows interaction as a ceaseless process of the mutual reading of intentions and states of mind. The writer illuminates this programme with examples from everyday conversation and psychotherapy. Another alternative to constructionism is provided by the systemic notion, outlined in the research of early interaction, of the intertwinedness of emotional self-regulation and the regulation of interaction. The article takes up facial expressions in conversation as an instance of the interactional regulation of emotions. The systemic view would lay a solid foundation for research settings where the aim is to fi nd links between the psycho-physiological emotional process and the interactional display of emotions. Keywords: mind, interaction, conversation analysis, constructionism, theory of mind, regulation of emotions.

Field experts and responsible biological citizens in the "Läskikapina" anti-overweight campaign

Vienna Setälä, PhD student, University of Helsinki

Biomedicine-based discourses and practices that claim to aim at the promotion of health and wellbeing are invading ever new spheres of life. Health education has a double character: while it purports to be based on scientifi c knowledge, it also aims at forming citizens’ everyday life and self-understanding in a specifi c way. This article analyses the presuppositions concerning science and citizenship behind the Läskikapina campaign against overweight that was published in the Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat in Spring 2007. Focusing on the actors, social relations, and representations to be found in the said campaign, the writer analyses the way the campaign addresses the reader, as well
as the hierarchy of knowledge and actors that was inherent in the campaign. She points out that the campaign addresses the reader through four actor categories (fi eld experts, science, exemplary persons,
and disciples) and three discourses (national discourse, risk discourse, and aesthetic discourse). Together these discourses and representations set up a model for a responsible biological citizen. The fact that the fi eld experts had a central role in the campaign manifests the emergence of a new profession, life coach, and strengthens its status.Keywords: science communication, health, biological citizenship, journalism, overweight

Goal oriented life-management. Clarifying conceptual confusions

Sami Ylistö, Master of Social Sciences, University of Jyväskylä

The article presents a review of the most important concepts and theories concerning life-management. Such a review is long called for, because the field is conceptually very fragmented and because the different theoretical traditions are not always even aware of each other. So far, life-management has been conceptualized in Finland in terms of the notions of well-being, internal vs. external dimension, empowerment,
and coping. In addition to these, the writer highlights the processual aspect of life-management. The central properties of these concepts and theories are then crystallised in the article into six concepts: goal orientation, relativity, processuality, awareness, well-being, and situationality. Further, the writer points out that life-management is a double-faced concept with both a psychic and a social aspect. For the social sciences, the latter is the crucial one. Defi ned in that perspective, life-management can no longer be reduced to psychological efforts, but becomes an issue for the analysis of social action. Due to these properties, lifemanagement turns out to be an illuminating perspective, with explanatory power, to human action. Keywords: life-management, well-being, empowerment,
power, will, coping, goals

Sosiologia Volume 46, Number 3, 2009

From official information to statistics – the formation of register-based statistic system in Finland

Marja Alastalo, Researcher, Doctor of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research, University of Tampere

The article looks into the formation of a register-based statistical system in Finland, as well as the consequences of the specificities of that system for the construction of societal statistics. The writer asks how the register system using the personal identity number was established in Finland and how it was made into the basic corpus of the official statistics. The writer traces the evolution of both administrational registers and register-based compilation of statistics in the 1960s and 1970s. The foundations of the register-based statistical system were laid simultaneously with the welfare state pension, health insurance, and population register systems. The analysis points out the tensions in the role of Statistics Finland as both state authority and producer of supposedly independent societal knowledge. As a consequence of the register based character of the system, the informational contents provided by administration turn out to determine the limits for societal descriptions as well.

Keywords: register based statistical system, population statistics, register system, ID code, welfare state, formation of knowledge

Participatory politics – active citizenship in self-service society

Kai Eriksson, Ph.D., Researcher, Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki

The goal of the article is to locate “participatory politics” and the so-called “self-service politics” as specific political topics, notably in Finland, to analyze their principal elements, and to map their interrelations. The writer discusses these two political entities above all from the perspective of politicalization and de-politicalization - that is, from the perspective of the opening and closing of the controversiality of issues. Participatory politics consists of three main focus areas, those of the active citizen, citizen networks, and so-called communal production. Self-service politics, in turn, links each of these areas with the broader political change by taking up the opposing topics of activating politics, communal control, and self-evaluation and accountability. Participatory politics, and self-service as its necessary companion, appear to narrow down the scope of democratic communication instead of broadening it, due to their tendency to turn political questions into technical ones and to present issues as natural rather than debatable.

Keywords: citizen participation, communal production, activation, accountability, network techniques, self-service democracy

Camera, field, and ethnographic knowledge – on the significance of visual ethnography for the gathering of research materials

Elina Paju, M.S.Sc., Researcher, Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki

The article deals with the role of taking photographs and videos in ethnographic sociological research. On the basis of her own research as well as debates over the use of (ethnographic) photographs and videos, the writer ponders on the choices involved, and on the effects of those choices on the subsequent research materials. She sets out with a brief discussion on the evolution of the use of visual materials in anthropological and sociological ethnographic research. She then goes on to analyze the use of such materials in her own research, and the choices made, in relation to the debates on the topic within visual ethnography. Special focus is on two issues: first, the productive character of the use of photographs and videos, which means that they can both bring the researcher and research subject close to each other and reinforce unequal power relations between them, and second, the effect of the technical choices concerning the shooting on the process and the materials produced. At the end, the writer ponders on the role of shooting and the nature of the researcher’s knowledge in ethnographic research and focuses on the videographic mode of producing research materials. The writer concludes that visual ethnography should be seen as one ethnographic research method, where the researcher’s embodied insight into the field is at the core. The materials drawn on in the article were produced in 2003- 2004 by taking, among other data gathering methods, photographs and videos of two groups of children in a 24-hour daycare center.

Keywords: Visual ethnography, photography, videography, daycare ethnography, research ethics

Sosiologia Volume 46, Number 2, 2009

Seeds of freedom. Constructing and experiencing working class in early
20th-century Finland

Anu-Hanna Anttila, Doctor of Social Sciences, University of Turku

The article deals with the way in which the Finnish working class was constructed and the Finnish labour movement organized in the Grand Duchy of Finland during an interesting transitional period, the early years of the 20th century. The class analysis carried out in the article draws on the perspective of the doing and living of class introduced by Beverly
Skeggs, Pierre Bourdieu, and E. P. Thompson. Special focus is laid on the political pedagogical youth work organized by the Social Democrat Women’s Union. Through  an analysis of the work of the so-called Unions of Ideals, the writer looks at how the offspring of working-class
families constructed their identities in relation with class and gender especially – both were key factors in the activities of working women. She clarifies the issue by analyzing texts written by under-16-year-old Union members and published in the hand-written journal “Seed of freedom”. These historical texts construct political identity in an experiential way. Class, gender, age, and sexuality in particular are interconnected frames in the texts. By focusing on their nexuses and
interpreting these in light of historical context, the construction and experiencing of working class begins to appear as multiple exclusions, questionings, and reorganizations.

Keywords: early 20th century, Union of Ideals, intersectionality, class, political pedagogy, gender, working class women, Labour Movement

Choice for the middle class, addiction for the working class? Differences in the justification of smoking between white and blue collar workers

Anu Katainen, Master of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki

The connection between the habit of smoking and lower socio-economical groups has been pointed out in several Finnish and international studies, and the differences between the socio-economical groups appear to be on the increase. Many other health-related habits, too, are connected with social status. The differences involve much more than just better readiness with educated people to acquire information of factors affecting health, for instance life-style differences having to do with class position. The article analyses both the ways of justifying one’s habit of smoking and the meanings of smoking through interviews with white-collar and blue-collar workers. The theoretical framework of the analysis consists of Pierre Bourdieu’s views of habitus and the relations between habits and reflexivity. The interviews with white-collar workers were characterised by efforts to reconcile middle-class habitus and hazardous smoking habits, while the interviews with blue-collar workers was characterized by a scarcity of groundings and rationalizations. In the working-class context, smoking seems to be a deeply ingrained habit that does not need justification. The middle-class orientation, in contrast, reproduces a strategy of modifying and redefining one’s habits, thus also increasing the probability of giving up the habit of smoking.

Keywords: class, smoking, reflexivity, socio-economic differences in health 

The health counseling events for drug users as a liberal governance practice. An ethnographic analysis of the new strategies of governing the drug problem

Riikka Perälä, Master of Social Sciences, the Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies

The article deals with the changes that have taken place in the governance practices of Finnish drug policies during the last ten years. The discussion draws on the ethnographic research materials gathered in the health counselling events targeted at drug users that were launched in Finland in 2001. The main question in the article is, what kinds of effect the changes of governance mentality have had on everyday practices. On the theoretical level, the article looks at the tensions and paradoxes which are connected with the liberal mode of governance, and which the events are seen to reflect. The events studied manifest three different strategies of governance – persuasion, alliance, and the production of expertise, by means of which the social workers tried to involve drug users in order to change their habits according to the advice they were given there. The liberal mode of governance shows three central features. First, there is the constant need with social workers to come up with new ways of controlling drug users without risking their freedom and autonomy. Second, there is the need to negotiate the contents and principles of acts of governance with the subjects governed. The third central feature essentially connected with the liberal mode of governance is the option of resistance, which manifested itself in the events as opting out, indifference, trouble-making, and open resistance. The notion of “governance from a distance” often associated with the liberal mode of governance appears, on the level of everyday life, as complex negotiation between the goals of governance and counter-governance.

Keywords: evolution in drug policies, health counselling for drug users, liberal governance, strategies of governance, resistance, ethnography

Sosiologia Volume 46, Number 1, 2009

The effect of family background on adulthood poverty in Finland in 1995-2005

Ilpo Airio, Doctor of Social Sciences, Social Insurance Institution of Finland; Mikko Niemelä, Doctor of Social Sciences, Social Insurance Institution of Finland

The focus of this study is to investigate the intergenerational transmission of poverty in Finland during the years 1995-2005. The data are derived from surveys collected in 1995, 2000 and 2005. The financial situation of childhood family was observed with subjective and retrospective questions. The results of the study indicate that economic hardship of childhood family is connected to poverty in adulthood. When investigating the changes of intergenerational transmission of poverty it was found that the relative significance of family background has increased. The main reasons behind the intergenerational transmission of poverty were unemployment and low level of education. Results supported the findings of previous studies where older generations report to have had much more financial difficulties during their childhood than younger generations do. Results also indicated that the economic recession in the beginning of the 1990s might have its own relevance to the increase of intergenerational transmission of poverty.

Keywords: family background, poverty, intergenerational transmission of poverty

Order and method. The history of forced labour for the unemployed in Finland from the perspective of Foucauldian research methods

Jani Kaisto, Master of Social Sciences, University of Jyväskylä; Miikka Pyykkönen, Doctor of Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä; Jani Selin, Master of Social Sciences, University of Jyväskylä

The article casts an overview on the general features and interrelations of Foucauldian research methods. The main goal of the article is to offer guidelines for the application of Foucault-based methods in empirical social research. The prospects of Foucauldian methods are illustrated by reconstructing Marko Nenonen’s study on the forced labour of the unemployed in 1948-1971. The reconstruction is carried out by means of Foucault’s archaeology and genealogy of knowledge. Both methods are first briefly introduced in the article, with the aim of capturing their core concepts and perspectives. The leading idea in using Nenonen’s study is to problematise the distinction, put forward in the said study, between forced labour for the unemployed and general unemployment insurance. By means of the archaeology of knowledge, the writers look for ruptures and continuities in the modes of conceptualizing and knowing about unemployment. Genealogy of knowledge, in turn, helps them to trace the differences and similarities between subsidized employment and unemployment insurance. They also aim at relating these perspectives more broadly to the changes in social political practices, debates, and modes of problem setting that have taken place in post-war Finland.

Keywords: Michel Foucault, methodology, archaeology of knowledge, genealogy of knowledge, unemployment

Social emotions in the regulation of drinking. Analysis of young adults’ accounts of their drinking

Jukka Törrönen, Professor, University of Stockholm; Antti Maunu, Master of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki.

The article looks into the role of social emotions in the regulation of drinking on the basis of analyzing diaries written by young adults providing descriptions of their visits to pubs and restaurants and drinking occasions. Special focus in the analysis is on the experiential, corporeal, and process aspects of social emotions. The theoretical framework consists of structuralist, pragmaticist, and phenomenological perspectives, notably the theories of Thomas Scheff and G. H. Mead. The article starts with the assumption that the emotions regulating drinking practices can, to varying extent, be recuperated to the feelings of honour and shame, which, according to Scheff, are the predominant social emotions in all action and communication. They indicate the ‘temperature’ of social relationships to the actors and participants of interaction. The feeling of honour suggests strong and secure involvement in interaction in which an individual sees herself as good and valuable. In shame, in contrast, the individual feels she is seen in a negative light by others, which she takes as a sign of her social bonds being under threat. The diaries in the materials contain a considerable amount of concrete and powerfully expressive depictions of how drinking can, experientially, link with feelings of honour and shame. The analysis shows that there is interesting variation in the degree of honour or shamefulness of drinking according to type of sociality and social situation. Most systematically, experiences of honour or shame link with efforts to form or reinforce relationships of friendship or love. In contrast, self-promotion or competition for status appear much more seldom in the stories, and tend to remain subordinate emotional episodes as compared to friendship and love.

Keywords: social emotions, honour, shame, diary, regulation of drinking