Working groups 2020

Here you can find the working groups that have their descriptions in English.

Communities and Touristification of Space and Place


Tarja Salmela (University of Lapland),

Työryhmän kielet: englanti ja suomi

This working group focuses on the question of Community in the context of tourism and travel. It invites scholars to critically engage in the discussion about touristification of spaces and places from the viewpoint of community formation, and preservation. Especially, but not restricted to, it invites scholars to reflect on the growing popularity of traveling in one’s home land – of traveling close and find new in ‘old’ and ‘usual’ – from the viewpoint of local communities. What happens when ‘everyday places’ – as essential sites of familiarity to local communities – become touristic attractions?

The workshop welcomes scholars with research and idea papers, current published articles, and other forms of contributions (such as art performances) to take part in the discussion. The contributions can be delivered both in English and Finnish.

The workshop is connected to University of Lapland’s ongoing project Envisioning Proximity Tourism with New Materialism (Academy of Finland 2019-2023),


Environmental conflicts and conflict resolution efforts


Tapio Litmanen (Jyväskylän yliopisto)

Lasse Peltonen (Itä-Suomen yliopisto)

Työryhmän kieli: englanti ja suomi

Intensification of human environmental imprint and expanding the scale of exploitation of natural resources also intensifies interest competition and conflicts. Geoscientists lead the discussion of whether humanity and the planet have entered into a new era they call Anthropocene. The term refers to the idea that we are living in a completely new geological epoch characterized by enormous human impact on Earth’s geology, ecosystems and climate. Biologists document alarming news on the crisis of biodiversity, of species and of ecosystems. Simultaneously we are urged to keep up the pace of economic growth and to increase global trade, investments, and finance, all of which have important implications for the natural environment. It is therefore no wonder that environmental conflicts erupt. Globally the number of conflicts is increasing.

In this working group, we aim to discuss various environmental conflicts and also means to resolve or transform them. The aim is also to analyze socio-political and socio-economic dynamics related to conflicts and how different societal actors try to address complex environmental conflicts. We welcome a variety of case studies on environmental conflicts and ways of dealing with them as well as theoretical explorations of environmental conflicts and conflict resolution efforts.

GEOS – geo-social perspective to rocks and minerals in a more-than-human world


Veera Kinnunen (Lapin yliopisto)

Anu Valtonen (Lapin yliopisto)

Työryhmän kielet: suomi ja englanti

While majority of the more-than-human literature has focused on exploring the “bios” – the biologically living organisms such as animals and plants – this workshop starts thinking social life with and through the “geos”, that is, materials such as rocks, stones, and minerals surrounding, sustaining and constituting us. The recent debate around the Anthropocene has introduced the geological time-scale and earthly ontology to the forefront of social scientific debate (see e.g. Theory, Culture & Society 2017/2-3), and contributed to the emergence of geo-social literature that scrutinizes how social life entangles with, and is thoroughly interdependent with rocks, stones and minerals.

Until recently, the geosocial literature has been somewhat scarce and scattered along disciplines. This proposed workshop attempts to enrich the debate on geo-social by gathering together scholars with different disciplinary backgrounds sharing the interest in the geo-social approaches on rocks, stones and minerals.

We invite empirical, theoretical, epistemological and ethical openings on the issue of “geos” from across disciplinary borders. Contributions may range from empirical enquiries to theoretical or methodological openings. We encourage contributions drawing from various disciplinary and theoretical sources, including geology, archeology, history, cultural studies, feminist studies, STS, ethics, and philosophy. The topics may include e.g. explorations on minerals, rocks and stones as affective, sensory experiences; in everyday life; at leisure and work; questions on ownership and rights, ancient and contemporary cultural meanings and symbols; construction, building and architecture; arts and performance; businesses and livelihoods.

Affect, desire, power, and community in academic knowledge formation


Salla Aldrin Salskov (University of Helsinki)

Milka Njoroge (Åbo Akademi University)

Työryhmän kielet: suomi ja englanti

This proposed thematic stream analyzes, implicit and explicit imaginaries, expectations and ideals for how communities are made in academia as a matter of knowledge formation. How does a politics of epistemology matter for various communities in the academia, but also for the the general public, media, for activists and policy makers? How and when does knowledge function as community making of shared epistemologies, vision and affect, and when does knowledge formation function as a politics of inclusion and exclusion?

Critical gender, race, sexuality and queer studies are academic and epistemic fields that have been characterized as “identity knowledges” (Wiegman 2012), whose very existence depend, in various ways, on communities, real and imagined, challenged and negotiated.

By asking how a commitment to political and ethical change is expressed and felt in academia, this panel asks how academic communities visions relevance, epistemic and political. What happens in communities when visions crash, politics fail, and trouble seems to be the only outcome? What kinds of political imaginaries are referenced when knowledge production is seen to have “succeeded”?

We invite accounts that incorporate multi-layered frameworks and methodologies to explore notions of race/nationality, class, gender and sexuality in relation to the notion of community in ways that seek to challenge and facilitate knowledge formation.

Communities online


Titi Ertiö (University of Helsinki)

Robin Lybeck (Åbo Akademi University)

Annamari Martinviita (University of Oulu)

Työryhmän kieli: suomi ja englanti

Digital communication channels play an increasingly important role in the social lives of the majority of individuals nowadays. Online interactions with others are shaping activities and social norms both within the online environments themselves and outside of them, thus influencing social interaction in society as a whole. Communities are often dependent on the internet to organize their activities, and in some cases they exist only online. Unlike some traditional communities based on physical proximity, online communities form globally around shared interests, be they hobbies, consumption, peer-to-peer support, crowdfunding and micro-lending, product development or political affinities. Whether entirely online or strongly linked to offline social activities, these communities manifest in heterogenous ways on different media platforms in terms of composition, skills, and collective actions undertaken.

Online environments enable organisation and distribution of information at low costs, but raise questions regarding reach, depth, and access. The algorithmic curation of information flows online may create boundaries and result in bubbles and echo-chambers. Furthermore, the digitalization of community interaction may exclude those individuals with less motivation or skills to participate through these means. Common knowledge leads us to believe everyone is online, yet digital divide scholars have demonstrated the naiveté of this notion. How do we reconcile the benefits and challenges online communities have/produce/ in our digital societies?

This working group will therefore discuss a range of topics on online communities from their origins and composition to the societal effects they have both online and offline. We aim to contribute with informed and critical views on the role of communities in the increasingly digital landscape. We welcome proposals ranging from full to work-in-progress papers and from empirical work to theoretical reflections. Presentations can be structured as brief introductions to topics or questions to discuss. Questions may include, but are not limited to: What hinders or enables equal participation in the (online) communities? What forms of civic engagement and activism arise from communities online? How do online communities and networks affect offline social activities? What is the role of online platforms in facilitating communities and their exchanges?

Cognitive sociology


Mikko Hyyryläinen (Helsingin yliopisto)

Tuukka Kaidesoja (Helsingin yliopisto)


Työryhmän kielet: englanti ja suomi


Sociologists and cognitive scientists research many similar topics, such as human action, decision-making, communication, emotions, and memory. It is not surprising that recent decades have witnessed a growing number of attempts to integrate the social and the cognitive sciences, or at least some of their parts. Although the idea of cognitive sociology has been around for some time, there are still many unanswered questions: Whether sociology and the cognitive sciences can be integrated and how? How does the fragmentation of both sociology and cognitive sciences affect the attempts to integrate these disciplines? What would empirical research in cognitive sociology look like? What kind of methods should be used in this research? What are its potential benefits and problems?

The objective of this working group is to bring together social scientists, psychologists and other cognitive scientists who are interested in and/or working on this topic which is known by various names, such as “cognitive social science”, “culture and cognition”, “cognitive social theory” and “cognitive sociology”. The presentations may deal with theoretical, methodological, empirical or historical issues. They may also be for or against the idea of cognitive sociology.

Sociology of Migration / Muuttoliikkeiden sosiologia



Olivia Maury (Helsingin yliopisto)

Paula Merikoski (Helsingin yliopisto)

Lena Näre (Helsingin yliopisto)


Työryhmän kielet: englanti ja suomi


Migration transforms societies. Increased transborder migrations create new transnational ties and communities, change existing communities, create solidarities and social struggles. Ongoing attempts to selectively control migration create exclusions from communities, produce new forms of insecure legal statuses, racialisations and nationalisms. At the same time, migrants are not only objects of control, but are involved in struggles around external and internal borders that consequently open up new spaces for solidarity and community. Migrant struggles often target the violent attempts of controlling migration and the administrative practices of migration regulation. Moreover, the production of precarious legal statuses and racializing practices point at the porosity of the ideal universal welfare state. Migratory movements also contribute to the undoing of imaginaries of national homogeneity and normative whiteness while migration as a phenomenon highlights the challenge of methodological nationalism for sociological concepts, theories and methods that traditionally stem from the context of the nation state, and which have often been developed to match the needs of a particular nation state.


We welcome presentations dealing with ongoing empirical research, methodological issues in migration research and theoretical approaches to the sociology of migration. Presentations can be given either in Finnish or English.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? On Finland’s international image and it’s consequences for the community, country-branding and migrations


Anna Matyska (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)

Wojciech Wozniak (University of Lodz)

Työryhmän kieli: englanti

In the last decades many times and for many reasons Finland was on the headlines of global media. Spectacular rise of Nokia and high-tech industry lead to the public recognition of Finnish socio-economic model as unique case of efficient combination of competitive advanced economy with egalitarian welfare state and community-based thinking. Finnish policy planning has been praised for adapting quickly to the demands of the current phase of capitalism.

Efficiency and quality of the school system proved by international rankings became an important part of country’s success-story and Finnish educational system became element of globally exported know how. More recently, basic income experiment was frequently reported in international media putting Finland into the spotlight of the global debate about policy innovations. Finland is also widely recognized as a champion of equal rights, the forerunner of women’s political emancipation and the country with particularly high level of social trust. All these and many more examples defined and shaped public image of the country, and its international recognition.

We invite papers approaching the broad range of topics concerning Finland’s image in the international media and public debates. We are interested how this image is constructed and how it is used (consciously or not) as a part of country-branding and a tool of its soft power. Another dimension of possible themes concerns the perception of Finland by foreign political elites, general public and the immigrating population. Potential research questions to be addressed:

  • How is brand “Finland” recognized in global/international media and how it influences the perception of the general public?
  • What are the main tools of Finland’s soft power and “country-branding” used by various Finnish institutions (including the official diplomacy)?
  • How Finland’s image affects the international relations between Finland and different countries/supranational institutions?
  • Whether/how it influences the individual decision about potential choice of Finland as the destination of migration?
  • How it shapes the expectations of incoming migrants towards the community they are about to enter?
  • How it affects self-perception of Finns as the members of the national community with such a successful image?

We invite papers utilizing all possible theoretical frameworks and methodologies.

Communities in transnational diasporas


Saara Koikkalainen (University of Lapland)

Mari Toivanen (University of Helsinki)

Östen Wahlbeck (University of Helsinki)

Työryhmän kielet: englanti ja suomi

In the current global era, voluntary and forced migration, as well as different short-term mobilities of various kinds, forge ties across borders. This has generated a need for information about how diasporic communities operate, what is the role of migrant agency in creating and maintaining transnational ties, and how social resources can bridge the divide between migrants’ new home countries and societies of origin. Empirically grounded information on the scope, nature and intensity of migrant communities’ transnational engagements in different contexts can inform how structural factors impede or facilitate the creation of such engagements and what kind of roles do these communities play in their members’ everyday lives. The workshop invites papers that focus on, for example, (1) theorisations of transnational communities and diasporic networks, (2) the dynamics of communities’ social and political organisation in local, (trans)national and global contexts, and (3) how social resources such as migrant capital and different social, political and affective transnational ties and practices are mobilized as social/political action among members of diaspora communities both in the societies of settlement and departure.

Researching Minorities and Underprivileged Communities: Ethics and Innovation in Politically Engaged Research Methods


Leonardo Custódio (Åbo Akademi University)

Camilla Marucco (University of Turku)


Työryhmän kieli: englanti


There is an established and increasing interest among researchers to combine research and activist support to the struggles of minorities and underprivileged communities in Finland and elsewhere. Politically engaged studies on racism and anti-racism, migration, asylum, and cultural resistance have mushroomed across the social sciences and humanities. However, well-meaning scholars have faced concerned, suspicious and critical questions by people in traditionally researched communities. How does research contribute to the welfare of people under academic scrutiny? Does research reinforce rather than dismantle oppressive structures? How much do buzzwords such as “decolonization”, “participation” and “collaboration” actually disguise exploitative research practices? These and other similar questions have led to debates on how to develop ethical, respectful and transformative research. The working group “Researching Minorities and Underprivileged Communities: Ethics and Innovation in Politically Engaged Research Methods” focuses on societally conscious research exploring especially, but not exclusively, migration, (anti-)racism, and minorities’ resistance in different spaces. We welcome participants from various disciplines, genders, ethnicities and career stages. Accepted presenters are encouraged to reflect on their own solutions to practical, ethical and methodological challenges in research. We especially invite colleagues who have developed innovative ways of dealing with dilemmas that arise from research conducted in the intersecting spaces between activism and academia. This working group is part of the activities of the Activist Research Network, a collaborative initiative co-coordinated by Leonardo Custódio and Camilla Marucco. The network welcomes researchers in different career stages, from a range of disciplines, in Finland and abroad, who have conducted and developed different forms of politically engaged research. Together, we have pursued answers to methodological questions such as: How can we conduct truly collaborative rather than exploitative research? How to balance between the roles of “activist” and “researcher”? For further information on how to join the network, please contact the working group chairs.

Sociology of gender and sexuality


Sofia Kari (Lapin yliopisto)

Leena-Maija Rossi (Lapin yliopisto)

Työryhmän kielet: suomi ja englanti


This workshop is for everyone interested in sociological research on gender and/or sexuality. Your approach may be methodological, empirical or theoretical, we welcome all kinds of academic presentations – as long as your focus is on gender and/or sexuality!



An Organized Community, Instrument for Influence or Show of Power? Wicked Problems and The Roles of Civil Society Actors in a Global Era


Mika Helander (Åbo Akademi)

Ilkka Levä (University of Helsinki)

Työryhmän kielet: suomi ja englanti

The work group invites all the researchers of various Civil Society organizations (tripartite labor organizations and NGO’s) to participate in discussions of the manifold roles of civil society actors in the Global era as the identifier and solver of ”wicked problems.” The concept ”wicked problems” was introduced by Rittel and Webber in 1973. The key idea was that the policy problems cannot be described definitively as their nature is heavily dependent of their definition. One could say that they are discursively described. Wicked societal problems are characterized by serious disagreements that follow from the uncertainty, complexity and value divergences related to their wickedness. We invite all kinds of papers and researchers dealing with civil society organizations as such third-party partners to present their research in the group.

Coyne, Richard (2005): ”Wicked Problems Revisited.” Design Studies vol. 26(1), 5-17.

Head, Brian W. (2008): ”Wicked Problems in Public Policy.” Public Policy vol. 3(2), 101-118.Rittel

Horst W. & Webber, Melvin M. (1973): ”Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning.” Policy Sciences vol. 4, 155-169.


Context in global social science – universality and particularity at the times of multiple global crises


Elina Oinas (University of Helsinki)


Työryhmän kieli: englanti


In this panel contextuality, locality and societal specificities are discussed in a global perspective. How agile is mainstream social science to really discuss contextual particularities? How do theories, concepts and agendas travel and influence the way we engage with nuanced, empirical detail in academic work? How are conceptual debates conducted so that the communal and linguistically unique does not disappear? When does the push for internationalization put the in-depth analysis of a specific problem at risk? How do the discourses of the climate crisis, quests for social justice and development agendas like the SDGs affect social sciences across the world? What means are there to avoid erasure of the local in empirical work and publications? The panel invites papers where different examples on how universalizing and particularizing analytical and publishing practices are resisted, explored and discussed.


Science, technology and society


Jose A. Cañada (University of Helsinki)

Marianne Mäkelin (University of Helsinki)

Vera Raivola, (University of Eastern Finland)


Työryhmän kielet: suomi ja englanti


Science and Technology Studies (STS) is an interdisciplinary field of study that examines the interaction between society, science, and technology. STS pays attention to how different fields, such as law, politics, and everyday life, become intertwined with science and technology. This is relevant when thinking about heatedly debated topics as diverse as climate change, the role of experts, medicine, genetics, gender, robotics or organic food. The field calls for a deeper understanding of the development, processes, practices and outcomes of such social phenomena. STS explores the mechanisms behind knowledge claims and ontological assumptions that guide our everyday. Or, how a prominent STS scholar, Steve Woolgar, has said: look at how the world defined by science and technology “could be otherwise”.

STS Helsinki calls for theoretical, methodological and empirical papers on current research in social studies of science. Papers both in Finnish and English are welcome. The aim of this working group is to offer a forum to discuss the practices that contribute to the shaping of technoscientific objects and subjects. How is scientific knowledge established and negotiated, and how historical processes contribute to the development of certain technologies? We also welcome papers that reflect on the role communities in the field of STS. This working group is defined as a meeting point for both Finnish and international scholars to share and discuss their work with others studying science, technology and society.

Communities of celebration


Ismo Kantola (Turun yliopisto)

How – and why at all – to study community relatedness of celebration, feast, and party-going? The working group welcomes sociological presentations dealing with the study of celebration as well as its critique. Wanted especially are exposures on the interrelation (if there exist any) of celebration and the community.

Does celebration or a feast always express a community, or does it always at least refer to a community? In case it does, then, what kind of a community could then be in question? And the communities that frame or generate celebration, are they always only local or could they be global also? And further still, the communities of celebration, are they always material or do they have the chance to be purely virtual as well? And in what ways the community takes shape for the party-goer if at all?

The working group of  Sociology of Celebration has been around since the 2003 Finnish Nationwide Sociology Conference.  Meanwhile sociology of celebration has evolved into a special field of sociology not only in Finland but on the European scale as well.

This time, the theme of the Annual  Conference hits very severely at the heart of celebration studies!

Send your abstract on this working group and you will be part of the European network!

Sense of community in the lives of young people


Sanna Aaltonen (Itä-Suomen yliopisto)

Tarja Tolonen (Helsingin yliopisto)

Työryhmän kieli: englanti ja suomi

Sociological interest on studying young people as part of local communities or peer communities, subcultures in particular, has its roots in the research approaches developed first in the Chicago School and later in the Birmingham CCCS. Barriers and possibilities of belonging to various communities during free time activities, in the context of educational institutions, in spaces and places as well as in society at large continue to be well-examined topics among youth sociologists. The aim of this working group is to enhance our understanding of these topics by focusing on e.g. subcultures, peer groups or territories or by using notions of friendships, loneliness or social exclusion as analytical lenses.

The working group invites papers both in English and in Finnish. Please note that at least one of the sessions will be organized in English and opened by Dr Dan Woodman, Associate Professor of Sociology from the University of Melbourne. In addition to presenting his paper entitled ‘Making time for the tribes: The work of synchronization in the making of youth collectivities in the age of the digital’, Dan will comment other papers of the session.







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