Economic and social history

Why are some nations rich while others are poor? What are the forces that drive long-term economic and social development? What sparks crises? Why have we not been able to eradicate poverty, hunger and inequality? What has been the significance of tribe, class, gender and family?

Economic and social history is a historical social science discipline that explores economic and social phenomena over time. It offers tools based on historical and social scientific research to better understand the past and the contemporary world.
De­scrip­tion of the dis­cip­line and research profile

The discipline of economic and social history focuses on major social phenomena and everyday life. Other topics include the formation of living conditions and lifestyles as part of changing social structures as well as how economic development and crises have produced not only welfare, but also inequality. Economic and social history is also interested in how people have attempted to resolve socio-economic problems at different times. The discipline analyses current social issues from a historical perspective.

The discipline of economic and social history is rich and diverse, and the research topics range from the local to the global. Multidisciplinary themes are also typical.

Current research focuses on the following:

  • Long-term economic development
  • Differences in income and wealth
  • Welfare
  • Consumption and everyday life
  • Life course, generations and minorities
Research projects

Some project names are in Finnish.

Study opportunities

Economic and social history can be studied in the Bachelor’s and Master’s Programmes in Society and Change. For the first two years, students pursue studies each of the four disciplines: political history; development studies; social and cultural anthropology; and economic and social history. During the third year, students choose their discipline-specific study tracks. The Master’s Programme in Society and Change focuses on discipline-specific studies. These degree programmes continue the long-standing cooperation in social science history between the disciplines of economic and social history and political history; within the framework of social science history.

Degree programmes that offer teaching in economic and social history
Blogs, web­sites and so­cial me­dia chan­nels

Discipline coordinator: University Lecturer Hanna Kuusi

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Contact information

Postal and street address

PO 54 (Snellmaninkatu 14 A)

00014 University of Helsinki

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