Research at Economic Sociology

An international perspective is central to the research conducted in economic sociology: a major part of these studies utilizes international comparative data. Specific expertise of the unit is in the contemporary survey techniques. The researchers participate actively in the international scientific community through conferences, short- and long-term visits and by publishing in peer-reviewed journals.


Doctoral dissertations in Economic Sociology since 2000

Aki Koivula (2019)
The choice is yours but it is politically tinged. The social correlates of political party preferences in Finland

Riina Pilke (2019)
The EU’s differentiated development cooperation and the new global challenges

Titiana-Petra Ertiö (2018)
Plan on the Move: Mobile Participation in Urban Planning. State-of-the-Art and Future Potential

Katri Rintamäki (2016)
Everyday Work: The work experience in the Finnish everyday life in the 2000's

Teo Keipi (2015)
Now you see me, now you don't: A study of the relationship between internet anonymity and Finnish young people

Miika Vuori (2015)
Social Solidarity and Fear of Crime - Community and Individual Approaches in Responses to Mass Violence after School Shootings

Outi Sarpila (2013)
Beauty for sale: An empirical study of appearance-related consumption in Finland

Matti Näsi (2013)
ICT disparities in Finland: Access and implications

Sueila Pedrozo (2013)
Consumption, youth and new media: The debate on social issues in Brazil

Markus Vinnari (2010)
The past, present and future of eating meat in Finland

Tuomo Kuosa (2009)
Towards the dynamic paradigm of futures research: How to grasp a compex futures problem with multiple phases and multiple methods

Vili Lehdonvirta (2009)
Virtual consumption

Leena Haanpää (2007)
Colour green: A structual approach to the environment-consumption nexus

Taru Virtanen (2007)
Across and beyond the bounds of taste: On cultural consumption patterns in the European Union

Pekka Mustonen (2006)
Postmodern tourism: Alternative approaches

Jani Erola (2004)
Remedy with rationalities: Improved rational action theory with empirical content as a solution to the fallacies in sociology

Velipekka Ryttyläinen (2000)
Autokaupunki: Sosiologinen tutkimus autotehtaan vaikutuksista Uuteenkaupunkiin.("Car town" : a sociological study of the automobile factory's influence on the town of Uusikaupunki.

Current research projects

Digital Disruption of Industry (DDI)

 ICT has already thoroughly transformed many sectors of industry, commerce, and society. Well-known examples include banking and finance, media, communications, and retail – and in each of these the change is still playing out.

​The focus of the Digital Disruption of Industry (DDI) project is on the economic and social implications of this disruption. The underlying fabric of current industries – how they operate, how they organize themselves, how they reason about their business and partners, and how they strategize – will be contested when the novel digital infrastructure, with its own paradigms, social market structures, and dominant logics starts to take form.

One of the interdisciplinary research groups of DDI is formed around top researchers from three UTU faculties: School of Economics, Social Research, and Law. Its work addresses industrial digitalization in the Finnish post-materialistic era, focusing in the affected legal and cultural institutions in contexts such as construction industry, media, and commerce and retail in the broader theoretical framework of the aging welfare society, public-private provision of industrial innovations, and crowdsourcing and other increasingly significant business models.

UTU work package is named as Institutional and Regulatory Interfaces. Our key topics include:

  1. Societal structures: when compared to other economies, which social, cultural, legal, and other institutional boundaries in Finland support digital disruption, and which do not?
  2. Producing companies: how do consumer communities challenge the existing business models?
  3. Individual consumers: how to embed new ways of consumption into existing practices? Which are the benefits and breaking points for consumers?

Research funding: Academy of Finland (STN, strategic research funding), 2015–

The research group
Professor Pekka Räsänen (Team leader), University of Turku
Professor Tuomas Mylly, University of Turku
Professor Tomi Dahlberg, University of Turku
Postdoctoral Researcher Ulla-Maija Mylly, University of Turku
Postdoctoral Researcher Mikko Pohjola, University of Turku
Postgraduate Student Titiana Ertiö, University of Turku

Political bubbles and media

We study the media behavior and levels of media trust among the supporters and members of various political parties from a number of perspectives. We are especially focused on determining the most media critical citizens in addition to their political affiliations and position in society. The empirical study is based on survey data gathered from various political party members concerning attitudes and social network information. The study is particularly unique in the Finnish context in terms of both its scope and representativeness. A secondary survey based dataset will be gathered and implemented in spring 2017 and will be representative at the population level.

Research funding: The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation

The research group: Adjunct professor and the project leader Arttu Saarinen, Professor Pekka Räsänen, Doctoral candidate Aki Koivula​, Doctoral candidate Ilkka Koiranen​, Postdoctoral researcher Teo Keipi​, Postdoctoral reseracher Sanna Malinen​.

>> Link to the Political Bubbles -blog

The social mechanisms behind the economic consequences of physical appearance

The social mechanisms behind the economic consequences of physical appearance

Recently completed research project

Hate Communities: A Cross-National Comparison

The project Hate Communities: A Cross-National Comparison (HC) will generate new information about Internet-based hate communities, such as web groups glorifying school shooters and mass murderers, racist and xenophobic youth groups and politically radical groups in two Western countries: Finland and the United States. The project will produce new theoretical understanding and empirical findings concerning the Internet’s emergent trends in contemporary post-industrial societies.

The research synergy of HC results from merging sociology, social psychology and youth research. The research team has collaborated before during the Social Relations and Community Solidarity: An International Comparative Analysis project on rampage shooting cases in US and Finland. The project will be a seminal study of hatred and violence on the Internet and the role online hate plays in the lives of youth in broad sense.

​Funding: Kone Foundation, 2013–2016

Research Team

HC project is led by Associate Professor Atte Oksanen (Dr.Soc.Sc.) (University of Tampere) and Professor Pekka Räsänen (Dr.Soc.Sc.). Research team includes post-doctoral researcher Matti Näsi (Dr.Soc.Sc.) in 2013–2015, and Teo Keipi (Dr.Soc.Sc.) in 2013–2016. Keipi defended his thesis in August 2015. The project also accommodates undergraduate students writing their master’s theses on a related topic.

The project collaborates internationally with various experts from different disciplines. Main contact is Professor James Hawdon (Ph.D.) from the Department of Sociology and Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention (CPSCVP) at Virginia Tech, the United States. We also collaborate with Vili Lehdonvirta (Ph.D.) from Oxford Internet Institute. In Finland, we collaborate with the Finnish Youth Research Network and various researchers from the Universities of Helsinki, Tampere, Turku and Jyväskylä.
Further information: Professor Pekka Räsänen

Cultural Capital, Consumption, and Social Networks Among older Adults

Cultural Capital, Consumption, and Social Networks Among older Adults is a comparative study of the United States and Finland. This project explores how tastes and consumption preferences change in later life and what constitutes the explanatory mechanisms between changes.

The project collects comparable survey data that will generate information that can be generalized to the American and Finnish senior consumers aged 60 years and over. The data will facilitate the analysis of a wide range of questions connected with

  1. music and arts,
  2. ICT, media and other leisure activities, and
  3. health and economic well being. The project is a joint effort between Economic Sociology, University of Turku, Department of Sociology, Virginia Tech and the Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research at Brown University.

The project is scheduled for 2010–2012 and is funded by the Finnish Foundation for Economic Education.

Further information: Professor Pekka Räsänen

Acquisition, Retention, and Monetization Strategies in virtual and social spaces (ARMS)

Acquisition, Retention, and Monetization Strategies in virtual and social spaces (ARMS) is a research project focusing on virtual economic design and its integration to online services’ business models. The project aims at applying theoretical understanding of business models, relationship marketing, sociology and economics to the challenge of designing the internal layout and interaction mechanics of online spaces.

The project identifies, analyses and implements virtual economy design patterns as prototypes allowing for realistic evaluation of their effectiveness in acquisition, retention and monetization. The work is conducted at Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT) in collaboration with Economic Sociology, University of Turku and industry partners.

The project is scheduled for 2009–2012 and funding comes from Tekes TILA program.

Further information: Professor Pekka Räsänen


Everyday Life and Insecurity. Social Relations after Jokela and Kauhajoki School Shootings

Everyday life and Insecurity (2008-2012) project analyses social relations
and management of risks after two dramatic school shootings in Finland, Jokela (November 2007) and Kauhajoki (September 2008). The research focus is in the interconnections between community-level resources and mass violence experiences as the project is looking to establish how the local communities return to normal everyday life and interaction after a school shooting tragedy.
Funding: Emil Aaltonen Foundation 2009-2012.
The project is part of an international research consortium Social Relations and Community Solidarity together with an American partner project led by professors John Ryan and James Hawdon from Department of Sociology at Virginia Tech (VT). The consortium is working on a comparative research on the coping process of local communities after an act of mass violence. Research is based on four mass shooting cases: Virginia Tech (USA), Jokela (Finland), Omaha (USA) and Kauhajoki (Finland) with focus on the cultural differences between American and Finnish societies in the frame of violence.

Research Team

Everyday Life and Insecurity project is led by Dr. Atte Oksanen (Dr.Soc.Sc., M.A.) and professor Pekka Räsänen (Dr.Soc.Sc.). Research team includes postgraduate students Johanna Nurmi (M.Soc.Sc.) and Miika Vuori (M.Soc.Sc). The project also accommodates undergraduate students writing their master’s thesis on a related topic.


The project collaborates internationally with various experts from different disciplines. Main contacts include John Ryan and James Hawdon from Department of Sociology at VT. In Europe we co-operate with Professor Herbert Scheithauer from Freie-Universität Berlin's Department of Education and Psychology. In Finland we collaborate with the Finnish Youth Research network and various researchers from the Universities of Helsinki, Tampere, Turku and Jyväskylä. We have also worked together with the coordination committees that were set up by the Finnish Government after the shootings in Jokela and Kauhajoki.


A) Journal Articles
Vuori, Miika; Oksanen, Atte & Räsänen, Pekka (2012) Puoli vuotta koulusurmien jälkeen - Väkivallan pelko Jokelan ja Kauhajoen aikuisväestön keskuudessa [Six months after the Tragedies: Fear of Violence among Jokela and Kauhajoki Local Communities]. Oikeus 41:1, 45-64.
Nurmi, Johanna (2012) Making Sense of School Shootings: Comparing Local Narratives of Social Solidarity and Conflict in Finland. Traumatology (OnlineFirst).
Räsänen, Pekka; Näsi, Matti & Sarpila, Outi (2012) Old and New Sources of Risk: A Study of Societal Risk Perception in Finland Journal of Risk Research (OnlineFirst).
Nurmi, Johanna; Räsänen, Pekka & Oksanen, Atte (2012) The Norm of Solidarity: experiencing negative aspects of community life after a school shooting tragedy. Journal of Social Work 12 (OnlineFirst).

Oksanen, Atte; Nurmi, Johanna & Räsänen, Pekka (2011) Pahuus ja väkivallan käsittelemisen ongelma Jokelan ja Kauhajoen koulusurmien jälkeen [Uncanny violence: Problems of coping after Jokela and Kauhajoki school shootings]. Janus 19:2, 104-121.
Kiilakoski, Tomi & Oksanen, Atte (2011) Soundtrack of the School Shootings: Cultural Script, Music and Male Rage. Young: Nordic Journal of Youth Research 19:3, 247-269.
Kiilakoski, Tomi & Oksanen, Atte (2011) Cultural and Peer Influences on Homicidal Violence: A Finnish Perspective. New Directions for Youth Development 33: Spring, 129, 31–42.

Lindström, Kauri; Nurmi, Johanna; Oksanen, Atte & Räsänen, Pekka (2010) Jokelan ja Kauhajoen asukkaiden arviot koulusurmien yhteiskunnallisista syistä [Perceptions of the Causes behind Jokela and Kauhajoki School Shootings]. Sosiologia 47:4, 270–285.
Oksanen, Atte; Räsänen, Pekka; Nurmi, Johanna & Lindström, Kauri (2010) "This can't happen here!" Community Reactions to School Shootings in Finland. Research on Finnish Society 3, 19–27.

Oksanen, Atte (2009) Pelkoa ja inhoa Pohjolassa: taiteesta ja tuhoavuudesta koulusurmien jälkeen [Fear and Loathing in Finland: On Art and Destructivity after School Shootings]. Stylus 103:2, 12–14.
Räsänen, Pekka & Oksanen, Atte (2009) Sosiaalinen vuorovaikutus, mediavälitteisyys ja massaväkivallan kokeminen paikallistasolla [Social Interaction, Mediality and Experience of Mass Violence in Community Level]. Tiedepolitiikka 34:2, 35–44.

Oksanen, Atte (2008) Jokela Connection. Shattering Social Ties and the Risk of Violent Virtual Identities. Drama: Nordisk Dramapedagogisk Tidsskrift 45: 2, 20–25.
Oksanen, Atte & Räsänen, Pekka (2008) Yhteisöllisyys ja väkivalta: koulusurmien kokeminen paikallistasolla [Social Relations and Community Solidarity after Jokela High-School Shooting]. Yhteiskuntapolitiikka 73:6, 652–658.
Räsänen, Pekka & Oksanen, Atte (2008) Paikallistason ymmärrys tärkeää kouluammuntatapausten käsittelyssä [School Shootings and Community Level Understanding]. Tieteessä tapahtuu 25:7, 36–39.
Räsänen, Pekka & Oksanen, Atte & Hawdon, James & Ryan, John (2008) Paikallistason yhteisöllisyys massaväkivallan jälkeen Suomessa ja Yhdysvalloissa [Community Solidarity after Mass Violence in Finland and US]. Sosiologia 45:4, 347–353.

B) Book Chapters

Vuori, Miika; Oksanen, Atte; Nurmi, Johanna & Räsänen, Pekka (2011): Pelon ja turvattomuuden umpikujia Jokelan ja Kauhajoen koulusurmien jälkeen [Fear and Insecurity after the School Schootings in Finland. In Atte Oksanen & Marko Salonen (eds) Toiminnallisia loukkuja: Hyvinvointi ja eriarvoisuus yhteiskunnassa. Tampere: Tampere University Press, 175-193.
Lindström, Kauri; Räsänen, Pekka; Oksanen, Atte & Nurmi, Johanna (2011): Politiikkaprosessi ja aselainsäädännön uudistaminen Jokelan ja Kauhajoen koulusurmien jälkeen [Firearms Legislation Process in the Aftermath of Jokela and Kauhajoki School Shootings]. In Juho Saari & Mikko Niemelä (eds) Politiikan polut ja hyvinvointivalton muutos. Helsinki: Kela, 254-271.
Oksanen, Atte; Räsänen, Pekka & Nurmi, Johanna (2011) Jokela and Kauhajoki: Experiencing School Shootings in a Nordic Welfare Society. In Richard Schwester (eds.) Handbook of Critical Incident Analysis. New York: M.E.Sharpe, 252-264.

Oksanen, Atte (2010) Mapping Hate, Rage and Fear in Finland after the School Shootings. In Steve Pratt: I Don't Want to Shoot Your Children: The Making of a Dangerous Individual (pp. 73-77). London: SP Publishing.
Oksanen, Atte (2010) Vihan, raivon ja pelon kartoituksia koulusurmien jälkeisessä Suomessa [Mapping hate, rage and fear in Finland after the school shootings]. In Steve Pratt: I Don't Want to Shoot Your Children: The Making of a Dangerous Individual (pp. 85-87). London: SP Publishing.

C) Newspaper Articles

Oksanen, Atte (2011) Sosiaalinen media ja kasvottomien ryhmien voima. Kaleva, 20.8.2011, p.20.

Oksanen, Atte & Räsänen, Pekka (2010) Surmien jälkihoitoon rahaa? ennaltaehkäisy unohdetaan [Money for After Care of the School Shootings - Prevention has been Forgotten]. Turun Sanomat, January 5, 2010, p. A2.

Oksanen, Atte & Räsänen, Pekka (2009) Väkivallan pitkä varjo [The Long Shadow of Violence]. Maaseudun tulevaisuus, July 8, 2009, p. 2.
Oksanen, Atte & Räsänen, Pekka (2009) Pienet yhteisöt avainasemassa ennaltaehkäisyssä. Koulusurmia tulisi tarkastella yhteiskunnallisena ongelmana [Small Communities and Prevention: School Shootings should be Studied as a Societal Problem]. Turun Sanomat, March 3, 2009, p. A2.

Oksanen, Atte & Räsänen, Pekka (2008) Yhteisöllisyys kaipaa vahvistusta [Social Solidarity after School Shootings]. Kaleva, October 5, 2008, p. 2.
Oksanen, Atte & Räsänen, Pekka (2008) Usko viranomaisiin istuu sitkeässä [Trust in Authorities and School Shootings]. Aamulehti, July 28, 2008, p. A2.
Oksanen, Atte & Räsänen, Pekka (2008) Paikallisyhteisöjen toipuminen väkivallanteoista vie aikaa [Coping of Local Communities Takes Time after Violent Tragedies]. Helsingin Sanomat, July 26, 2008, p. A2.

D) Theses
Strömback, Johanna (2011) Koulusurmat ja kriisityö. Tutkimus Jokelassa ja Kauhajoella työskennelleiden kriisityöntekijöiden tunnetyöstä [School shootings and crisis work. A study on emotional dimensions of crisis work in Jokela and Kauhajoki]. Master's thesis in Sociology. University of Turku.
Vuori, Miika (2010) Naisten ja miesten väkivallan pelot paikallisyhteisön luottamusrakenteen säröinä [Women’s and men’s fear of violence as the cracks on a community’s structure of trust]. Master’s thesis in Sociology. University of Tampere.

New Good Taste? Cultural Consumption, Leisure Consumption and Social Structures

The main aim is to find out which forms of cultural and leisure consumption act as status markers in the contemporary societies. Are the markers consistent a) across countries, b) across varying socio-demographic groups and c) during economic trends’ fluctuation?

The methods applied in the research will be quantitative and both existing and new primary data will be utilized.

The project is scheduled for 2012–2015 and is funded by the Academy of Finland.

Further information: Postdoctoral Researcher Taru Lindblom.

Finland as an appearance society: A population level study of values, attitudes, norms and their changes

The purpose of this research project is to find out what significance appearances have in the Finnish society and how the significance has changed during the 2000’s. The project seeks to answer 1) how important do Finns perceive physical appearances, and what changes may be detected in values and norms that concern appearances, 2) to what extent can physical appearance be considered a form of capital that can be used in social exchange, and how have these considerations changed?, and 3) what kinds of norms concerning the development and use of physical appearance in social exchange can be detected, and how have these norms changed during the 2000’s in Finland.

The theoretical background of the study is in an economic sociological understanding of markets and capital. The presumption is that physical appearance is a form of capital which may profit the individual in accumulating other forms of capital, such as financial wealth or social circles. According to an economic sociological understanding of markets different norms regulate markets, as they function within the social environment, rather than separate from it. The internal norms of markets are considered cultural and temporal. This study regards different spheres of life, such as working life, as markets which each have their own norms that concern the importance of appearances and the value of appearance as an exploitable asset.
The project analyzes both quantitative and qualitative data. The data used are the Finland 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014 surveys, as well as The everyday life and wellbeing survey 2011 and The everyday life and appearance survey 2016. The surveys are representative of the Finnish adult population. The project will also analyze appearance-related autobiographies written by Finns, as well as an exceptional Suomi24 discussion forum data from 2001-2015, which was made available for research use in 2015.
The project is unique both nationally and internationally. From the results it will, for the first time, be possible to form a comprehensive empirically informed understanding of what physical appearances mean to Finns, and what significance does physical appearance have in an individual’s everyday life and for an individual’s success in life. As such the project opens up new perspectives for the study of social inequality in Finnish society. The project may be regarded as particularly significant, as it 1) considers the significance of appearances from several perspectives as a part of individuals’ everyday lives, rather than as a separate entity, 2) examines the significance of appearances by combining qualitative and quantitative approaches, as well as using completely new types of data, and 3) analyzes the significance that appearance has for an individuals’ success in life from different perspectives: both from individuals’ own experiences and through the objectively measurable effects of physical appearances.
 Research funding: Emil Aaltonen Foundation, 2016-2018

 Contact: Outi Sarpila (principal investigator),

Other Researchers at the Project

Erica Åberg (Project Researcher)
Tero Pajunen (Project Researcher)
Iida Kukkonen (Research Assistant)



Kukkonen, Iida; Åberg, Erica; Sarpila, Outi & Pajunen, Tero (2018): "Exploitation of aesthetic capital – disapproved by whom?", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 38:3/4, ss.312-328.

Åberg, Erica & Huvila, Jarna (2018): Tyylikäs lapsi, hyvä äiti?


Åberg, Erica; Pajunen, Tero & Sarpila, Outi (2017): Huolittelua ja huomioon ottamista. Ulkonäköpääoman ilmentäminen Suomessa. Kulttuurintutkimus 34:2-3.

Sarpila, Outi; Åberg, Erica & Pajunen, Tero (2017): Double standards in accumulation and exploitation of aesthetic capital. Working papers in economic sociology – The stability of change. Turun yliopisto, sosiaalitieteiden laitos.

Sarpila, Outi; Pajunen, Tero; Åberg, Erica & Kekäläinen, Sonja (2017): Onko ulkonäön arvostus nousussa Suomessa? Yhteiskuntapolitiikka 82:1, 86-94.


Sarpila, Outi & Erola, Jani (2016): Physical attractiveness – who believes it is a ticket to success? Research on Finnish Society 9.

Kekäläinen, Sonja (2016): Elän makeeta elämää, päällä parempaa Seppälää. Ulkonäköpääoman merkitykset ikäryhmien ja ammattiasemien perusteella. Taloussosiologian Pro Gradu -tutkielma, Turun yliopisto.

Sarpila, Outi; Sandell, Roosa; Koivula, Aki & Kukkonen, Iida (2016): Arkielämä ja ulkonäkö -kyselyn tutkimusseloste. Working papers in Economic Sociology. Turun yliopisto, sosiaalitieteiden laitos.​