Study highlights biases and bubbles

The Academy of Finland’s Strategic Research Council has selected four University of Helsinki research consortia for its programmes – a record for the University. Three of the consortia are led by the Faculty of Social Sciences and one by the Faculty of Educational Sciences, and they are headed by Anu Kantola, Reetta Toivanen, Janne Hukkinen and Kai Hakkarainen.

Professor Anu Kantola’s consortium Tackling Biases and Bubbles in Participation (BIBU) focuses on the opportunities and methods of citizen participation in political decision-making in a society under global change.

The BIBU consortium explores how worldwide changes, such as changes in the economic structure, urbanisation and migration, affect citizens’ political capacities, interests and emotions.

 “In terms of emotions, our intention is to study where hope or pessimism is located as well as which groups people feel affiliated with," says Professor Kantola.

In addition to political bubbles among the general populace, the researchers will study similar bubbles among decision-makers.

BIBU will also study how political decision-making is responding to changing interests in political issues and debates which are defining the future of the Nordic welfare model.

Finland to be a democracy accelerator

The consortium seeks to turn Finland into an internationally interesting democracy accelerator.

 “To this end, we intend to update democracy through experiments and new platforms, such as an experiment in participatory budgeting or platforms for drafting legislation,” Kantola explains.

Kantola believes democracy is the best way to develop societies. Her consortium intends to produce an extensive report on the nature of citizenship.

The study will help the consortium alleviate the biases and bubbles of democratic participation. BIBU will create new information in cooperation with NGOs, interest groups, decision-makers, industry representatives and government employees. BIBU will also develop participatory innovations, such as digital diplomats, mediation panels and empowering publicity as well as organise training sessions for decision-makers.

 “Digital diplomats are counter-trolls. We’re experimenting with virtual reality in a digital committee," Kantola explains.

Idea from the faculty

BIBU arose from the extensive research repertoire of the Faculty of Social Sciences, where the cooperation between communications, policy, sociology and consumer research in particular encouraged researchers to break with tradition.

 “It’s great to be able to really get to work in multidisciplinary research. We’re even crossing faculty limits, since psychology is also involved,” Kantola points out.

BIBU received a total of €4.9 million in funding, of which €2.2 million has been allocated to the University of Helsinki for the funding period 1 September 2017–31 August 2021.


Further information:

Anu Kantola

+358 50 5834644

Four Strategic Research Council projects for the University of Helsinki

Senior University Lecturer Reetta Toivanen (University of Helsinki) heads the consortium All youth want to rule their world (ALL-YOUTH), which explores the visions of young people regarding a sustainable future, growth and wellbeing.

Professor Janne Hukkinen’s Creative adaptation to wicked socio-environmental disruptions (WISE) consortium seeks to improve decision-making regarding difficult socio-environmental disruptions and the evaluation of the decision outcomes while boosting Finland's resilience and adaptation to the disruptions.

Professor Kai Hakkarainen’s consortium Growing Mind: Educational Transformations for Facilitating Sustainable Personal, Social and Institutional Renewal in the Digital Age (GrowingMind) aims to support the renewal of Finnish teaching and schooling in interaction with rigorous academic research.

Consortia were selected for three of the Strategic Research Council's programmes. A total of thirteen research consortia will be included in the programmes Changing Society and Active Citizenship, Adaptation and Resilience for Sustainable Growth, and Keys to Sustainable Growth.

The three programmes received 93 applications, and 32 candidate consortia were invited to participate in the second round.  The second round  applications were evaluated by two separate panels, one of which focused on the academic quality of the applications and the other on their social impact in relation to the goals of the relevant programme.