"We hope that our book will reach decision-makers", say Kristiina Brunila and Lisbeth Lundahl, editors of a new book on youth policy

The school-to-work transition of young people is a topical subject discussed in terms of sociology by the new open-access Helsinki University Press book Youth on the Move. The editors of the book, Kristiina Brunila and Lisbeth Lundahl, speak of their work in an interview.

How well do young people transition from one educational level to the next and from school to the world of work? This is a question occupying many minds within society, since the educational and career paths of young people are of interest to both decision-makers and experts in education and youth work. The new Helsinki University Press volume Youth on the Move: Tendencies and Tensions in Youth Policies and Practices, which discusses the transitions of young people in the Nordic countries and England, looks at this question from the perspective of research. The editors of the book, Professor Kristiina Brunila from the University of Helsinki and Professor Lisbeth Lundahl from Umeå University, take a critical perspective on the topic.

"The uncertain school-to-work transitions of young people represent one of the most urgent social problems today in many countries. An entire 'transition machinery', consisting of education and training aimed at young people, has been created to help these transitions. We find it problematic that issues encountered by young people – for example, unemployment, poverty and discrimination – as well as solutions to these problems are seen are individual challenges. However, these issues are first and foremost based on structural factors related to social power relations and inequality, and they may marginalise young people. Such socially important differences as age, gender, ethnicity, social class and health affect the opportunities of young people in a variety of ways. We want to move the focus from the individual to structures."

Articles in the Youth on the Move book analyse the views of decision-makers, teachers, guidance counsellors and other experts as well as those of young people on various transitions.

"By studying the views of various parties, it is possible to render current problems visible and provide an answer to why, despite good intentions and numerous measures, the social status of young people remains unchanged. The work of professionals may, for example, be guided by unidentified ideologies or stereotypical expectations of what kinds of education and career paths are suited to young people coming from different backgrounds."

According to Brunila and Lundahl, it is important to ask what kinds of positions are available for young people in the transition machinery and how young people perceive their own status.

"In our opinion, looking at policies and practices related to transition in social terms is important, since these practices not only describe but also mould opportunities for young people to act and exist. Young people’s own experiences and wishes have been largely absent both from research and decision-making."

Brunila and Lundahl wanted to provide open access to their book, so that it would be easily available to as wide an audience as possible.

"We think openness is crucially relevant, as we hope our book reaches not only the academic community but also decision-makers and professionals in the field of education. Researchers should value openness. We cannot demand funding for our research if we don’t make our findings available outside academia."


Kristiina Brunila is a sociologist and professor of social justice and equality in education at the University of Helsinki. Lisbeth Lundahl is a professor in educational work at Umeå University.

This story is part of a series introducing Helsinki University Press's new publications and presenting HUP's authors as well as their views on open-access publishing.


Translation: Language Services, University of Helsinki.

"It is an ex­cel­lent thing that pub­lic­a­tions are made freely avail­able", says so­cial the­or­ist Jukka Gro­now

The first book published by Helsinki University Press, Jukka Gronow’s Deciphering Markets and Money: A Sociological Analysis of Economic Institutions has been released and is available for free on the Press’s website. In this interview, Gronow shares his views on his book and open-access publishing.

Jukka Gronow, professor emeritus of Uppsala University, has a long history of studying economic sociology. During the past two decades, shifts in economic policy, banking crises, and economic cycles have further increased the need to analyse consumption and market forces outside economics. Gronow’s recent study Deciphering Markets and Money responds to this need. In his book, Gronow discusses both art and cultural markets as well as the continuously growing financial markets. Gronow analyses how the social preconditions of the formation of these markets affect their functioning.

"One of the underlying themes of the book is the problematic relationship between sociology and economics. I aim to show how, due to the multidimensionality and principal quality uncertainty of products, markets would collapse without market devices that are based on, for example, aesthetic judgements or judgements of taste. They render goods and services mutually comparable and commensurate. For their part, these market devices are founded on the three social formations of taste: cultural fields, social worlds, and fashion."

When considering a publsiher for his monograph, Gronow regarded Helsinki University Press (HUP) as an opportunity.

"I was interested in HUP as a new publisher, who operates as a fully open-access publishing house. Making publications freely available to all is an excellent thing."

Nevertheless, the researcher also sees challenges in open-access publishing that should be solved at an international level.

"For example, practices related to the funding of publications, author fees, and the reviewing of publications are inconsistent and sporadic. In an ideal situation, an international organisation representing universities would draw up rules pertaining to publishing activities."

Universities and some research funding institutions demand open-access publication, however; publishing in open access does not necessarily benefit researchers in their tenure track. As a professor emeritus, Gronow knows that he is in a fortunate position, since building a career is no longer important to him.

"The problems related to meritation are also linked with the ongoing transitional period during which various and mutually contradictory assessment criteria may be used. It is to be expected that the oncoming avalanche of digital publications will necessitate the use of some kinds of general judgements of taste without which ‘consumers’ will easily get swallowed up by the mass. These kinds of market devices are, in fact, discussed in my book."


Jukka Gronow is professor emeritus of sociology at Uppsala University, Sweden, and docent at the University of Helsinki. He has published on sociology of consumption, history of sociology, and social theory.