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The Centre for Sociology of Democracy studies democracy in modern societies. Our projects deal with democracy from different perspectives and with different methods.


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Social movements

In their chapter for the Concise Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics in the Social Sciences, Taina Meriluoto and Eeva Luhtakallio discuss the specificities of ethical questions when studying a political topic, in particular social movements and activists in stigmatized or risky positions.

Visual politicization and youth challenges to an unequal public sphere: conceptual and methodological perspectives

By discussing current youth’s democratic practices and introducing the concept of visual politicization, Eeva Luhtakallio, Taina Meriluoto and Carla Malafaia argue for a reconsideration of what we understand as political action and propose new methodological tools for analyzing it.

Visual bodies, ritualised performances: an offline-online analysis of Extinction Rebellion’s protests in Finland and Portugal

In their article, Carla Malafaia, Jenni Kettunen and Eeva Luhtakallio explore the function of bodies as tools of visibility in ritualised online-offline performances. By analysing performative protests, the authors shed light on the importance of paying attention to non-verbal levels of political action and argumentation.

Education and climate activism: Youth democratic practices and imaginations towards a common world

In this editorial Carla Malafaia, Maria Fernandes-Jesus and Eeva Luhtakallio discuss the new diverse ways young generations have become mobilized to tackle the climate crisis and picture ways towards a common world and practices.

The Pepe the Frog Image-Meme in Hong Kong: Visual Recurrences and Gender Fluidity on the LIHKG Forum

Using a combination of a computational big data analysis and a qualitative analysis, Katrien Jakobs, Degel Cheung, Vasileios Maltezos and Cecilia Wong examine how activists used the Pepe the Frog image-meme to make statements about Hong Kong politics, gender and democracy during the 2019 Anti-Extradition Bill and Law Movement.

‘Missing school isn’t the end of the world (actually, it might prevent it)’: climate activists resisting adult power, repurposing privileges and reframing education

In her article, Carla Malafaia studies how youths manage their activism and argues that activists construct margins of resistance in their political practices by incorporating processes that interrupt adult structures while reframing educational imagination.

PLURALITY IN URBAN POLITICS: Conflict and Commonality in Mouffe and Thévenot

In their article, by augmenting Mouffe’s agonistic pluralism with Thévenot’s pragmatic sociology, Veikko Eranti and Taina Meriluoto develop both an analytical framework for a more nuanced study of urban politics as sites of democracy and a detailed conceptualization of pluralism in democracy.

Fame democracy? Social media and visuality-based transformation of the public sphere

In their article, Eeva Luhtakallio and Taina Meriluoto argue that a fame-based logic has become dominant in the strategies of actors in many different situations concerning political action in public. By recognizing the fame-based values informing public action with a pragmatist approach, they argue that a wider variety of action can be recognized as public action and the normative foundations that inform people’s action in public can be interrogated.

How do civil society organizations influence climate change politics? Evidence from India, Indonesia, and Finland

In their article, Luhtakallio, Ylä-Anttila and Lounela compare the efforts of civil society organizations to influence climate change policymaking in three countries with very different traditions of democratic decision making.

The self in selfies—Conceptualizing the selfie-coordination of marginalized youth with sociology of engagements

In her article, Taina Meriluoto conceptualizes selfies as reflexive practices of self-coordination, and develops an analytical framework adapted from the literature of sociology of engagements for their analysis.

Snapshots of 21st Century Citizenship: New Approaches to Young Citizens’ Political Practices (12–13 Dec)

Two-day seminar, Tampere University

Seth Doyle / Unsplash

Sign up here by 2 December! Program below.

Linna Building, Kalevantie 5, Ground Floor, Lecture Hall K103 

Keynote speakers: 

Associate professor Eeva Luhtakallio (Tampere University) is a sociologist and an ethnographer interested in the practices and processes of democracy, politicization, political (dis)engagement and citizenship, drawing on pragmatic social theory. Luhtakallio leads the Centre for Sociology of Democracy (CSD) and the research project Citizens in the Making. 

Professor Laurent Thévenot (EHESS), Director of Studies at EHESS, is a sociologist and economist noted for his grounding work on critical pragmatic sociology as a comparative, methodological and theoretical framework for studying how personal attachments and concerns become translated into public issues when taking part in a community and communicating disagreement or difference. 

Associate Professor Isaac Reed (University of Virginia) is a historical and cultural sociologist noted for his work on the questions of interpretation and explanation in the social sciences and the social theory of power and transitions to modernity. He is particularly interested in how acts of power are interpreted, and the multiple ways in which authority can render itself legitimate. 

Professor Gianpaolo Baiocchi (New York University) is a sociologist and an ethnographer interested in the questions of democracy, inequalities, politics and culture, critical social theory and cities. His work focuses particularly on the instances of actually existing civic life and participatory democracy. 

The Centre for Sociology of Democracy organises a two-day seminar offering in-depth analyses of and new approaches to understading young citizens’ participation in Finland and beyond from a pragmatist perspective.

Citizenship in 21st-century is marked by several simultaneous developments in civil society which change the conditions of participation: digitalization, polarization, and marginalization. These processes take place in public, local and online, digital and physical spaces, and give reason to expect that young people who grow up in today’s civil society will come to practice citizenship differently from previous generations.

The Citizens in the Making research project (funded by the Kone Foundation) has, since 2015, been studying these developments and what they mean for 21st-century citizenship in the Finnish context. This seminar publishes the results of that work and engages in discussion other scholars and stakeholders interested in 21st-century citizenship. The research of Georg Boldt, Veikko Eranti, Maija Jokela, Lotta Junnilainen, Eeva Luhtakallio and Tuukka Ylä-Anttila paint an image of young Finns’ civic imaginations: of their different conceptions of what it means to be a citizen and to act as part of society. These conceptions are explored in everyday social action of young people in urban spaces, formal politics, activist engagements as well as online debates. The findings suggest, among plenty of other insights, that young people approach political participation as individuals rather than collectives; that technocratic top-down systems of participation tend to breed technocratic bottom-up practices; and that empowerment without actually sharing power tends to breed shallow engagement.

This research effort now reaching its final stretch has been marked by an ambition to build further the theoretical background of pragmatically oriented cultural sociological conceptualization of politics, and the making of the common world.

The project has also had a methodological ambition: combining levels and types of data and methodology in order to build a holistic, multi-dimensional understanding of the future of political cultures. In particular, the project has taken on the challenge to combine computational and ethnographic methodology in order to both grasp the vastness of online data and the precision of the ethnographic eye.

Apart from discussing the results of the project work, we will widen the debate towards theoretical implications, different political contexts, and further empirical landscapes with keynote lectures by professor Laurent Thévenot (EHESS), professor Isaac Reed (University of Virginia), and professor Gianpaolo Baiocchi (New York University).

Sign up here by 2 December!


December 12, 2019 

10.00 Welcome address – Kalle Korhonen, The Kone Foundation

10.15 –11.15 Keynote by Professor Eeva Luhtakallio: 21st Century Citizens in the making: Towards a pluralism of engagements and projects?

11.15–12.45 Citizens in the Making: What we learned I

Veikko Eranti: Individualists in the making – Civic action, societal participation and the individualistic style of doing politics

Lotta Junnilainen: Place, Poverty and Political Participation – Imagining the future with young people living in disadvantaged neighborhoods

Georg Boldt: Citizens in Training – Notes on commitment and the resonance of style

12.45–14.00 Lunch

14.00–15.00 Keynote by Professor Laurent Thévenot (EHESS): The Trying Art of Taking Part

15.00–15.30 Coffee

15.30-16.30 Keynote by Professor Isaac Reed (University of Virginia): Pragmatics of Delegation: The King’s Two Bodies and its Afterlives

December 13, 2019

9.15 Coffee

9.30-11.30 Panel on Mixing methods: new innovations and insights into studying youth participation
Chair: Professor Anu Koivunen
Panelists: Veikko Eranti, Salla-Maaria Laaksonen, Minttu Tikka & Tuukka Ylä-Anttila

11.30-12.30 Citizens in the Making: What we learned II

Tuukka Ylä-Anttila: Going Overboard: Politicization in an anonymous online community

Maija Jokela: Social media affordances for activism: individual or collective action?

12.30-13.45 Lunch

13.45–14.45 Keynote: professor Gianpaolo Baiocchi (New York University)

14.45-15.30 Discussion

Sign up here by 2 December!