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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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Recent News & Blog Posts

POSTPONED: Visual participation of young Europeans – snapshots from France, Finland and Portugal

The event has been postponed. The new date and venue will be announced later.

Politicization of migration in the countermedia style

Countermedia are partisan media that oppose conventional media and the establishment.

Lähiökylä – Tutkimus yhteisöllisyydestä ja eriarvoisuudesta

Tutkija-kirjailija Lotta Junnilaisen kirjassa kuvataan kahden vuokratalolähiön arkea. Teos on tutkimus suomalaisen yhteiskunnan eriarvoistumisesta ja kaupunkien eriytymisestä. Se on kuvaus niukkuudesta, epävarmuudesta ja turhautumisesta, mutta myös yhteisöllisyydestä ja solidaarisuudesta.

Group formation, styles, and grammars of commonality in local activism

In her article, published in the British Journal of Sociology in 2018, Eeva Luhtakallio argues that in order to analyse democracy as a pattern constantly processed in a given society, it is useful to look at activist groups’ agenda setting and recruitment principles, group bonds and boundaries, and how these actions direct and influence ways of creating the common. Based on an ethnographic study on bicycle activism in Helsinki, Finland, the article describes a local critical mass movement that was successful in promoting a bicycle friendly and sustainable city, yet dissolved due to lack of people involved, and the bicycle demonstrations stopped at a moment of high public interest.

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

Two-day seminar, Tampere University

Engagements, grammars, and the public: From the liberal grammar to individual interests

Veikko Eranti’s article in European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology 5(1-2), 2018 argues that the way the sociology of engagements is currently formulated does not sufficiently allow for analysing public participation and disputes in situations where individual interests play a crucial role in public debates. The article presents a slight reformulation of what Thévenot calls the grammar of individuals in a liberal public (sic), based on a) an understanding of how individual interests relate to the common good and general will, b) the constitution of legitimate actors within polities, and c) the separation between the levels of generality and publicity. This reformulation might be called the grammar of individual interests, clarifying and simplifying earlier terminology.

Citizens in Training: How institutional youth participation produces bystanders and active citizens in Finland

In his dissertation Georg Boldt identified four individual level outcomes of youth participation.


Do institutional approaches to participatory democracy produce better citizens, does it meet the expectations of those participating and do these structures offer the participants opportunities to realize their objectives? These are some of the questions discussed in Georg Boldt’s dissertation on institutional youth participation. One of the key findings of the study is that existing institutional practices for participation and civic engagement of young people are not responsive to the diversity of needs and interests of young people.

In his dissertation Boldt identified four individual level outcomes of youth participation. Firstly, a group of participants had a deep and fundamental experience of empowerment and transformation. Secondly, a group of socially privileged participants strengthened their position by accumulating influence. Thirdly, some participants left the process of participation to find different outlets for their civic engagement. Finally, for a group of participants, the position of being a bystander was further reinforced. These consequences were dependent on the style of interaction in the participation process, and on whether the participants felt they had any influence over decision-making.

The dissertation is based on more than 200 hours of participant observation of municipal processes for youth participation in the metropolitan area of Helsinki during the years 2015-2018. The observations were conducted in a youth council and in participatory budgeting events in Helsinki. Youth councils are the most typical forms of institutional youth participation and are based on the practices of parliamentary decision-making. Contrarily, the process of participatory budgeting offered by the city of Helsinki gives young people the opportunity to affect local budgetary allocations of the city youth department.

The dissertation is available here.