Four new academic projects to faculty of social sciences

The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Culture and Society decided to grant Academy Project funding for 53 research projects. Among funded projects are university researcher Mikko Aaltonen, sociology emeritus professor Pekka Sulkunen, professor of world politics Teivo Teivainen and professor of political science Åsa von Schoultz.

Mikko Aaltonen: Sociodemographic determinants of criminal careers in Finland 1987–2015 (CRIMCAR)

Finnish criminal policy places a strong emphasis on the premise that preventing social exclusion reduces crime. However, recent Nordic quasi-experimental studies have questioned the effects of factors such as family poverty and neighborhood deprivation on crime, whereas aggregate developments in rates of crime and indicators of social exclusion appear to be discordant as well. The aim of this project is to 1) provide a comprehensive assessment of how criminal careers and sociodemographic backgrounds of persistent offenders have changed during 1987–2015, and 2) provide new quasi-experimental evidence on the effects of social disadvantage on crime, and criminal sanctions on social disadvantage. The analyses are based three large-scale register-linkage datasets of high quality, including crime outcomes from unique data on all court convictions from year 1977 onwards.

Pekka Sulkunen: Political economy of gambling: Circulation of value and vested interests

Gambling creates revenue to public purses, operators and other beneficiaries through taxation, direct contributions, fees and by creating employment and investment. Offshore and cross-border operators attempt to enter the lucrative markets, while established gambling providers seek to safeguard their acquired market positions. This study focuses on the circulation of value from gambling to different beneficiaries, and different types of vested interests that may influence these processes. We ask how much value is generated through gambling in European countries, how it is circulated between stakeholders, and what kind of vested interests are involved. We answer these questions by comparing the political economy of gambling in seven European countries, using econometric data, official documentation and key informant interviews. The results will inform us on the importance of gambling funds to European economies and the kinds of vested interests that may hinder effective policies.

Teivo Teivainen: Democratic Decision-Making within Transnational Social Movements: Representational Politics in the World Social Forum

The project analyses the emergence of new kinds of world political activities. What does it mean to consider transnational social movements as political actors? Whom and how do they represent? Should we believe them if they often claim to have rejected representational politics? Our main case is the World Social Forum, the new millennium's largest and most important alliance of social movements and civil society organisations. The project also offers new possibilities to practice democratic principles. Possibilities for more democratic non-state activism are enhanced if the public and the activists themselves become more aware of the representational politics at stake. We contribute to this by making visible and bringing under scrutiny relations of power within and between social movements.

Åsa von Schoultz: Intraparty competition - the neglected dimension of electoral politics

The personalization of politics, with greater focus on individuals rather than political collectives, has progressed significantly over the past decades in parliamentary democracies. This trend has affected the link between citizens and political parties. The aim of the research project is to explain why citizens are represented by certain types of politicians. To answer this question, the project analyzes the strategies and behaviours of the three central actors of representative democracy: parties, candidates and voters. The Finnish open list system offers a great opportunity to study 1) party nomination strategies, 2) candidate strategies under conditions of intraparty competition for votes and 3) voter strategies when choosing between individual candidates on party lists. Several types of data and methods are employed: for example, semi-structured interviews of party representatives, candidate data, survey data and experiments to understand voting behavior.


The Academy of Finland’s  total funding is worth around 24.4 million euros.