Professor Risto Kunelius (, P535, Porthania) has earlier served as a professor of journalism research and the Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities at University of Tampere. His ongoing research focuses on media and politics, public debates about privacy and security and the coverage of climate change.

Dr. Meri Kulmala (, P531, Porthania) is a sociologist and has worked on issues related to Russia and social welfare. She is currently leading an international interdisciplinary research project on child welfare reform in Russia and is involved in another project exploring youth well-being in the Arctic region in which she is responsible for the investigation of agency and subjective well-being of young care leavers, among other methods through peer research.

INEQ Associate Professor of Regional and Urban Inequality Dr. Pia Bäcklund ( (Department of Geosciences and Geography; Docent in spatial planning), is a human geographer whose research interest covers especially strategic spatial planning and politics. Her latest research project JustDe (2018-2022) targets the issue of how new agreement based spatial planning practices gives new form and direction to justification of societal decision making in the context of Nordic Welfare state.

INEQ Associate Professor of Law, Security and Privacy Dr. Dorota Gozdecka ( (Faculty of Law) is a legal theorist and her research focuses on how law creates and maintains otherness. Her current project uses the theory of law and aesthetics to examine how images of migrants impact on the understanding of what is legitimate in the regulation of migration flows. Her forthcoming book ‘Visual Power, Representation and Migration Law’ (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming) analyses how these perceptions of legitimacy exacerbate growing crimmigration and securitization of migration law. 

INEQ Professor of Urban Theology Dr. Henrietta Grönlund ( (Department of Practical Theology; Docent of Church and Social Studies) is a sociologist of religion who specializes in questions of civic engagement and welfare, especially the role of religion and values in relation to these themes. Her current research interests include the ways in which religion manifests in urban contexts and interacts with urbanity, especially in relation to questions of inequality and wellbeing. She currently leads a research project on contemporary urban poverty.

INEQ Associate Professor of Contemporary History Dr. Johanna Rainio-Niemi ( (Political History, Faculty of Social Sciences) is a historian who specializes especially on smaller states’ modern political systems and on issues of welfare state development, social / national security states, consensus-orientated democracy and state-society relations in comparative and international perspective. Her most recent and on-going projects deal with the ‘defence’ of democracy and the constitutionalist tradition in 19th and 20th century Finland, the emergence of modern national and international social politics and the international histories of the idea of neutrality.  

INEQ Professor of Social Inequalities in Health Dr. Karri Silventoinen ( (Population Research Unit, Faculty of Social Sciences and Faculty of Medicine) has background in demography and epidemiology. His major research interests cover social and global health inequalities, physical and mental development of children and risk factors of metabolic diseases. International comparisons and analyses of biosocial interaction have been important part of his research.

INEQ Associate Professor of Linguistic Inequalities and Translation Technologies Dr. Roman Yangarber ( (Digital Humanities; Leader of the Research Group in Computational Linguistics, UH). His current research is on how Artificial Intelligence can assist humans in learning languages.  Specific focus is on "high-stakes" learners – committed to learning the language to a high level of proficiency, including migrants and "heritage" learners trying to sustain their language. The goal is to support these learners in navigating their environments – to lower linguistic barriers and reduce inequalities.

Research Assistants

Ripsa Niemi ( is a statistics student, interested in social data science. She has previously studied media and communications with a focus on social and societal networks.

Nette Holopainen ( has an MSSc in social and cultural anthropology, and is interested in urban life and art. Her master’s thesis studied the layered landscape of gentrification in Brooklyn.

Teaching Assistant

Matteus Pellikka ( is a political history student from Society and change program with special interests in environmental issues and security policies.

Join the INEQ Community!

INEQ affiliate scholars join the growing, internationally networked research community of scholars at University of Helsinki.  The membership is freely open for all Helsinki University scholars who have completed the Doctoral Degree or are members of the Helsinki University based doctoral programs and work with projects, issues and questions related to social and cultural inequalities and their consequences. INEQ is a multidisciplinary, cross-faculty initiative that aims for methodological diversity and welcomes different theoretical approaches.

INEQ affiliate scholars will be able to

  • identify with the Initiative with a double affiliation  
  • fully participate in the new interdisciplinary research community and its activities
  • apply for fellowship and visitors’ program and seed funding 
  • benefit from the contacts both nationally and internationally


  • A doctoral degree and affiliation with the University of Helsinki OR
  • A membership in a doctoral program of the University of Helsinki
  • Ongoing research interest on inequality studies
  • Plans for future research work, project and application in the field of inequality research
  • Evidence of past and ongoing research (publications)

Apply for an INEQ affiliate scholarship online via E-form service.

The affiliate scholars will be notified about the acceptance with some further instructions to join the INEQ community and its activities. The affiliates will be automatically added to the INEQ mailing list and research community in Tuhat (where affiliates can select which of their activities are labelled as an part of the work of the INEQ community).