I have worked as the Professor of Rural Studies in Social Sciences in University of Helsinki 2005-2013 being specialized with Russian countryside and global food system.
I have studied Russian local changes based on field research in different regions of Russia and some other post-socialist countries. At present I study changes in civic organizations in Russia and also work with the data from field research. I am also affiliated to the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES) at Uppsala University. My latest published books are The Other Russia, local experience and social change (Routledge, 2017), a joint work with Ann-Mari Sätre, and Metropolitan Ruralities (Emerald, 2016), edited together with Kjell Andersson and others.
I am an emeritus professor in sociology and long time director of the Aleksanteri Institute (1996-3/2018). I have also been Director of the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Russian Studies: Choices of Russian Modernisation (2012-2017). From April 2018, I work in the Aleksanteri Institute as Research Director, focusing on the exit phase of the Centre of Excellence. I am also Chief Editor of the book series Studies on Contemporary Russia (Routledge).
The Centre of Excellence is establishing a new paradigm for post-Cold War Russian studies. More than 50 scholars within the institute and its networks have been participating in this effort producing, 37 books, 20 special issues in area studies journals, and 257 refereed articles. In its final two years, the Centre will concentrate on generating new projects and finalizing a major volume on the macro challenges of Russian modernisation.
I am also a senior scholar in Rustam Urinboyev’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie project Migrant Law in Russia.
Since 2000, when I affiliated with the Aleksanteri Institute as a researcher, I have conducted research mainly on questions of the internal differentiation of the middle classes, first in the Baltic countries and since the mid-2000s in Russia. The core of my research has been private enterprises, their formation and strategies of adaptation, and their managerial and business strategies. From a wider social perspective, I have studied SMEs as a potential platform for the emergence of a new rural middle class and the social role of SMEs in (local) social development, especially in the provision of welfare. I have lectured on various courses of Russian Studies, both at the University of Helsinki and University of Tampere on entrepreneurship and the middle classes in Russia and on other courses on topics concerning the Eastern and Central European countries, and on methodological issues of Russian and Eastern European Studies.
I have carried research especially on the history of philosophy of the Soviet epoch, Russian “civilization theory” and geopolitical thinking. In the Russian modernization research project of the Aleksanteri Institute, I have studied the reception of Enlightenment thought and Kant in Russia. The “forgotten” thinkers of the Soviet period have for a long time been one of the focal points of my research. I have been especially interested in the so-called Activity Approach, which was one prominent trend in later Soviet philosophy (especially Ilyenkov), but even in the cultural-historical psychology (Vygotsky, Leontiev).
At present, I am preparing two projects. The first focuses on the culture of the Stalin era and attempts to examine, hiow the cultural and theoretical heritage of earlier periods succeeded to survive in the difficult conditions of the epoch. Another project in preparation involves the theme “Marx and Russia”. Recent research has shown that Marx’s views on Russia and its developmental perspectives have been much more complicated than hitherto assumed.
My PhD thesis in 1994 was on structuralist and post-structuralist Spinoza interpretations. I have published and edited books i.a. on the philosophy of Evald Ilyenkov, Aleksandr Bogdanov, Max Weber and Russia and on the “Russian Idea” in the first half of the 19th century. In addition, I have published about 100 articles on the history of Russian, German and Scandinavian philosophy. I have reguklarly arranged symposia on Russian and Soviet philosophy.
I belong to the editorial boards of several journals of my professional field (Das Argument, Studies in East European Thought, Transcultural Studies) and have edited several thematic issues. In addition, I am the chairman of the Finnish Marx Society, which is member of the Finnish Association of Scientific Societies.