8th international Power Conference
Helsinki, November 24-26, 2022
Thursday, 24 November 2022

Registration for the conference starts at 14.00 at the U33 building (Unioninkatu 33).

Location: Juhlasali, U33 (Unioninkatu 33)

Session chair: Professor Risto Heiskala, Tampere University

Democracy, authoritarianism and kleptocracy as ideal types of political power: A four-dimensional power approach

In this paper we will approach democracy, authoritarianism and kleptocracy as ideal types (in the Weberian sense) of the exercise power. Rather than a normative approach, we will look these three types of rule as representing different economies of political power. There are two sources of political power: coercion and authority. Kleptocracy corresponds to rule through coercion, while both authoritarianism and democracy constitute rule based upon authority. Authority is based upon a belief in legitimacy (Weber), which can be created in several ways, through the skilled exercise of the third- and fourth-dimension of power. With regard to the third-dimension, belief can be based upon techniques of reification (Truth claims), thus controlling discourse (authoritarianism); or belief can be based upon open discourse and fallibility (truth claims), which reveal whether or not power is positive sum and advantageous to the less powerful (democracy). Relative to the fourth-dimension, power can create docile bodies who accept their being-in-the-world as fate (authoritarianism and kleptocracy), or power can be used to create the kind of self-restraint necessary to see the self from the perspective of other, with regard to justice and political contests (democracy). The overall conclusion of the paper is that democracy is not simply the product of humanist norms; it also represents a highly efficient economy of power, when compared to kleptocracy and authoritarianism.

Mark Haugaard is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Sociology at the National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland. He is the founder editor of the Journal of Political Power, published by Routledge. He has published extensively upon political power and his recent publications include: The Four Dimensions of Power: understanding domination, empowerment and democracy, 2020, Manchester University Press. ‘The four dimensions of power: conflict and democracy’, Journal of Political Power, 2021, 14:1: 153-175. ‘Reverse Versus Radical Discourse: A Qualified Critique of Butler and Foucault, with an Alternative Interactive Theorisation’, Global Society 2022, 36(3): 368-90.

Reception at Unioninkatu 33.

Friday, 25 November 2022

Location: Juhlasali, U33 (Unionkatu 33)

Session chair: Professor Pertti Alasuutari, Tampere University

The Affective Life of Power: Lessons from the Happiness Industry

This paper focuses on affect as a vital part of understanding operations of power. It traces affective experiences as well as ways in which affective attachments and investments are created and regulated in the happiness industry, covering a range of practices aimed at increasing happiness, wellbeing and self-actualisation. This industry constitutes a billion-dollar business worldwide and has centrally contributed to the commodification of affect in contemporary capitalism. Drawing on longstanding ethnographic fieldwork in the happiness industry in Finland, the paper highlights how power operates through affect. Affects are connected to what we can or cannot do, and hence to our capacity to act. Engaging with recent discussions of affect in feminist and cultural theory, the paper traces how affects are solicitated, performed, experienced, and disciplined in the practices of happiness industry. It also zooms on to materiality, that is, how bodies, spaces, and objects come together in the happiness industry to enable or foreclose particular affective attachments, relations, and responses. Although affect has been increasingly capitalized, instrumentalized, and commodified in contemporary capitalism, the paper shows that affect is not reducible to this logic, but is fundamentally unpredictable, unruly, and protean, producing unexpected encounters and effects. The paper highlights that engagements with the happiness industry can set in motion not only empowering and rewarding, but also painful, alienating, and disconcerting experiences.

Suvi Salmenniemi is professor of sociology at the University of Turku, Finland. Her areas of expertise include political sociology, therapeutic culture, utopian thought, cultural studies, feminist research, ethnography and critical social theory. She is PI of the project Political Imagination and Alternative Futures, funded by the Academy of Finland (2020-2024). She is the author of Affect, Alienation and Politics in Therapeutic Culture: Capitalism on the Skin (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022) and the editor of Assembling Therapeutics: Cultures, Politics and Materiality (Routledge, 2020). Her work has been published in journals such as The Sociological Review, Sociology, International Sociology, Social Movement Studies, European Journal of Cultural Studies and The British Journal of Sociology.


Coffee and tea served at Metsätalo

#1 Power and Politics of Engagement 1 (Room 10, Metsätalo)

Ivana Rapoš Božič (Masaryk University) – Civic Art and Culture Initiatives: Key Tensions

Anna Zhelnina (University of Helsinki) – Temporal Agency in Urban Politics

Veikko Eranti & Taina Meriluoto (University of Helsinki) – Towards a pragmatist theory of the political

#2 Power and the Pandemic 1 (Room 9, Metsätalo)

Laura Kihlström (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare; Department of Anthropology/USF) – Power and politics in a pandemic: Insights from Finnish health system leaders during COVID-19

Yannick Lahti (University of Helsinki, Endure 2022) – COVID-19 and the mobilization societies: a comparative perspective

Emilia Palonen (University of Helsinki) – Performing Control: Covid-19 and social media contestations

#3 Arctic Circumpolar Research Cooperation and the new “iron curtain”  (Juhlasali, U33)

Aytalina Ivanova (University of Lapland)

Lukas Allemann (University of Lapland)

Karolina Sikora (University of Lapland)

Hiroki Takakura (Tohoku University & Visiting professor at Arctic Centre, University of Lapland)

Chair: Florian Stammler (University of Lapland)

#4 Media Power (Room 8, Metsätalo)

Anu Kantola (University of Helsinki) – Silence of the wealthy: How the wealthiest 0.1% avoid the media and resort to hidden strategies of political power

Joonas Koivukoski (University of Helsinki) – Humor and Power in the Hybrid Media Environment: A Multifunctional Framework

Eetu Mäkelä (University of Helsinki) – Enduring Elites in Quoted Sources: Curation of the News Flow in Finnish Media from 1999 to 2018



A buffet lunch will be served at UniCafe Metsätalo in the Metsätalo building.

Arctic World Politics in Times of Crisis (Juhlasali, U33)

The Arctic has been an exemplary field for international cooperation in politics, environmental issues, research and civil society. Among others, scientific cooperation across all borders has turned the Arctic in to a space of innovation during the last 30 years. Likewise, the existence of, and cooperation between, the region’s many Indigenous peoples has sustained identities and forms of life that challenge geopolitical divisions and state boundaries.

With the rapidly changed political order in 2022 this era of Arctic cooperation came to an end, with consequences that we will be experiencing for decades to come. This panel discusses the present challenges, and whether there is anything from this spirit of circumpolar cooperation among researchers and residents of the Arctic that can be rescued even in such difficult times.

Lassi Heininen (University of Lapland)

Florian Stammler (University of Lapland)

Tiina Seppälä (University of Lapland)

Mikkel Berg-Nordlie (Oslo Metropolitan University)

Chair: Laura Junka-Aikio (University of Lapland)


Coffee break – tea and coffee served at Metsätalo.

#5 Power and Politics of Engagement 2 (Room 10, Metsätalo)

Janne Lehtonen (University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences) – Corona Crisis as Tools for Politics and (de)Politicizations: Covid Discussions and Polarization in Finnish Parliament 

Georg Boldt (University of Helsinki) – Democratising the church? How politization and approaches to secularism shape contentious debates in a Finnish religious community

Roman Kyrychenko (Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv) – Dynamics of aggressive discourse on Ukraine and the West in the Russian pro-government media in 2000-2022

#6 Power and the Pandemic 2 (Room 7, Metsätalo)

Marjaana Rautalin & Pertti Alasuutari (Tampere University, Faculty of Social Sciences) – Navigating in global discourse: the case of Swedish COVID-19 strategy

Ahsan Qureshi (Tampere University) – Platforms for unhealthy phenomena:authorizing discourseson the Grand Helsinki Mosque

#7 Memory, Narrative, Identity (Juhlasali, U33)

Tamar Karaia (Tbilisi State University) – Making and remaking memories: power and policy-making process in contemporary Georgia

Hanna Rautajoki (Tampere University) – Moral casting and politically persuasive narration in the case of Capitol Hill 2021

Peter Stankovic (University of Ljubljana) – Symbolic universe of folk pop music and reproduction of social inequalities in Slovenia

#8 Gender, Institutions and Power (Room 8, Metsätalo)

Johanna Kantola (University of Helsinki) – Power, institutions, and gender: The role of national delegations in the European Parliament

Larisa Shpakovskaya (Aleksanteri Institute) – Gendering coloniality: women from Russia in Finnish universities

Katariina Mäkinen & Eetu Mäkelä (Tampere University, University of Helsinki) – A reserve army of labour and care: Positioning mothers in family policy journalism

Location: Juhlasali, U33 (Unioninkatu 33)

Session chair: Professor Eeva Luhtakallio, University of Helsinki

The Utopian Counterfactual: Excavating the Methodological Foundations of Emancipatory Social Science

This paper lays out the foundations of 'methodological utopianism' - that is, the social scientific pursuit of emancipatory goals. It considers the contradictions, limits, and possiblities of such a project by considering one particular contemporary approach (the "real utopias" project) and its antecedents in sociological theory, specifically the methodological utopianism of Perkins Gillman, Mariátegui, and DuBois.

Gianpaolo Baiocchi is a Brazilian-born activist and scholar based in New York City, where he directs NYU's Urban Democracy Lab.  Since his 2001 dissertation on Porto Alegre’s participatory budgeting, his career has revolved around making sense of actually existing civil society and institutional arrangements to extend the reach of democratic decision-making. He publishes widely in disciplinary and public-facing outlets.   One of the founders of the Participatory Budgeting Project, he has also worked on immigrant rights and anti-militarism campaigns in the US, as well as the defense of democracy in his native Brazil.  Recently he has worked with housing justice organizations on people-driven alternatives to private housing provision.  With Jake Carlson he is author of the “Social Housing Development Authority,” a proposal to convert distressed real estate into permanently decommodified housing.  A sociologist by training, Gianpaolo's most recent book is We,The Sovereign  (Polity Press/ Radical Futures).


Buffet dinner served at Unioninkatu 33.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

#9 Power and Politics of Engagement 3 (Room 10, Metsätalo)

Wojciech Wozniak (University of Lodz, Poland) – How much trust is too much? 

Anders Vassenden (University of Stavanger, Norway) – Understanding elite ordinariness

#10 Migration Discourse, Extreme Speech and the Other (Room 7, Metsätalo)

Szilvia Horváth (Eötvös Loránd University, Institute of Political Science, Budapest) – The Other as enemy and interlocutor: Interpreting the condition of stasis and politics

Jorge Disseldorp (Ghent University) – The Political Power of Right-Wing Narratives on Migration: A Case Study on Migration Discourse in the Remain-Leaning Press during Brexit

Matti Pohjonen (University of Helsinki) – Sideshadows of violence: a comparative approach to global platform power

# 11 Social Media and Political Polarization (Juhlasali, Unioninkatu 33)

Antti Gronow & Yan Xia (University of Helsinki, Aalto University) – Does an External Threat Reduce Political Polarization? The War in Ukraine and Social Media

Keiichi Satoh (Hitotsubashi University) – Measuring Polarization of Policy Networks Using the Advocacy Coalition Index

Ali Faqeeh & Mikko Kivelä (Aalto University) – Policy Networks and Social Media Networks in Climate Change Politics 

#12 Gender and Power 2 (Room 8, Metsätalo)

Men Qianxing (Nagoya University) – Women's language in cyberspace - A case study of Chinese feminism discourse on the social networking platform

Amir Barjasteh (Tampere University) – Authoritarian governmentality: Justification of dividing practices in two opposite policies of women’s attire in Iran’s pre- and post-revolution 1979



#13 Power and Politics of Engagement 4 (Room 10, Metsätalo)

Jon Gunnar Bernburg (University of Iceland) – Large-Turnout Expectations and Protest Re-Emergence: The Panama Papers Protest in Iceland

Tülay Yılmaz (University of Helsinki) – The Last Straw of Democratization; Narratives of Emotions-Remembering the Gezi Movement after a Decade

Pekka Koskinen (University of Helsinki) – Disability movement and the (un)changing demand for disability inclusion

#14 Global Networks, Platforms and Policy Choices (Room 7, Metsätalo)

Shaheer M. Hussam (Aetlan/MIT) – The Powers of Innovation: Private Enterprise, Universities, and Networks of Expertise

Olga Ulybina (Tampere University) – Policy instrument choice under globalization: Do authoritarian states choose differently?

#15 Influence and Biases Online (Juhlasali, U33)

Sonja Savolainen, Ville P. Saarinen & Ted Hsuan Yun Chen (University of Helsinki): How Police Repression Shapes Social Movements Online: Evidence from Climate Activists in Finland

Anton Berg & Katja Valaskivi (University of Helsinki, HSSH): Computational Representations of Religion - Power and Biases of Image Recognition Systems

Caroline Patatt (Universidade da Beira Interior, Portugal) – Fact-checking and COVID-19: the political-ideological bias of fake news verified in Brazil during the first 90 days of the pandemic

Lunch served at Unioninkatu 33.

Location: Juhlasali, U33 (Unioninkatu 33)

Session chair: Tuomas Forsberg, University of Helsinki

The power of platforms and infrastructures in digital authoritarianism

Authoritarian states, such as Russia and China, have used digital technologies to strengthen their regimes, for example through surveillance systems, online propaganda and censorship. Yet, the concentration of power in increasingly integrated digital infrastructures – a process known as “platformisation” – and the transnational dependencies this has given rise to, has also introduced novel weaknesses and constraints; especially for states who, unlike China, are not digitally autonomous. For example, foreign ownership of social media platforms may significantly hamper the capacity to implement online censorship. Drawing upon recent scholarship in Media and Communication Studies, this keynote argues that transnational dependencies and their geopolitical dimensions are key to understanding digital authoritarianism today. The talk takes Russia’s war against Ukraine as a case study for exposing the fault lines, instabilities and contestations resulting from platformisation and examines how the main actors involved (e.g., states, platform companies) negotiate them. Among others, it addresses the effects of the (tech) sanctions imposed on Russia and the withdrawal of Western tech firms from the Russian market on Russia’s capacity to engage in authoritarian practices. The talk thereby elucidates how both platform companies and autocratic regimes navigate the centrality of platforms in increasingly geopoliticised digital infrastructures at times of contention or conflict

Dr, Mariëlle Wijermars is a CORE Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. Her research focuses on internet freedom and the human rights’ implications of internet policy and platform governance, in particular in authoritarian states. Drawing upon, e.g., Political Communication, International Relations and Media Studies, she studies how authoritarian governments seek to shape and control how information circulates in societies. Her research has appeared in, e.g., Post-Soviet Affairs, New Media & Society and Digital Journalism. She is the author of Memory Politics in Contemporary Russia: Television, Cinema and the State (Routledge, 2019) and co-editor of The Palgrave Handbook of Digital Russia Studies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021) and Freedom of Expression in Russia’s New Mediasphere (Routledge, 2020).