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
anu.kantola@helsinki.fi