Research in Sociology

Research co-operation is carried out in international joint projects, national research projects and in informal research networks between researchers. Our key focus areas include social classes and education; social, economic and over-generational inequalities: population, families and family relationships; marginalisation, societal change, social movements, housing, and health and well-being.

Examples of Research Projects

Intergenerational Cumulative Disadvantage and Resource Compensation (INDIRECT)

The INDIRECT project studies intergenerational inheritance of socioeconomic attainment, with a focus on the idea of resource compensation. Resource compensation can be seen to come into play when families lose resources and attempt to compensate for these losses either through the use of other resources, which have not been lost, or with the resources of other family members or neighbours. By extending the idea of resource compensation to a broad range of situations in which resource compensation may occur, the INDIRECT projects aims to advance the theory behind and empirical evidence for intergenerational socioeconomic inheritance.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no ERC-2013-CoG-617965

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Life-course, disadvantageous experiences and socioeconomic inheritance

Principal investigator: Jani Erola, Academy Research Fellow
Research group: Juho Härkönen, Marika Jalovaara, Laura Kestilä, Pasi Moisio, Aleksi Karhula, Hannu Lehti, Sanni Jalonen
Funding: Academy of Finland (decision numbers 130300, 138208), Alli Paasikivi Foundation, 2009-2014

The project studies the effect of parent’s social and economic status on children’s social status, income, wealth and education. The project has two themes.

  • First considers how the inheritance of social status varies according to social class, income, wealth and education. In addition, we estimate how parents’ class and income are connected to these.
  • Second theme considers how the effect of parents’ class, income and education on children’s adult status varies according to the age when children experience them. Additionally, we consider how disadvantageous experiences at the different ages effects to the same things. The disadvantageous experiences are the death of a parent, parental divorce, moving to foster care, parental unemployment and poverty in childhood household.

The project applies Finnish high-quality register data and novel statistical methods.


Erola, Jani; Härkönen, Juho & Dronkers, Jaap (2012). More careful or less marriageable? Parental divorce, spouse selection, and entry into marriage. Social Forces, fortcoming.

Erola, Jani (2012). Family background and the life cycle effects of father’s class and income. In book Connelly, Roxanne et al (ed.) Social Stratification: Trends and Processes. Ashgate, forthcoming.

Hyvärinen, Sauli & Erola, Jani (2011). Perhetaustan vaikutus toisen polven maahanmuuttajien kouluttautumiseen Suomessa. Mahdollisuuksien tasa-arvo stressitestissä?  [The role of family background in educatational achievement for the second generation immigrants in Finland: A stress test for the equality of opportunity.] Yhteiskuntapolitiikka 6/2011, fortcoming,


Jani Erola: How total is the "total family background" effect? The life course variation of sibling correlations. Annual Meeting of American Sociological Association, Las Vegas, USA, 20-23 August 2011, Section on Sociology of Education.

Jani Erola: The life course variation of sibling correlations in Finland. The 25th Conference of the Nordic Sociological Association, Norway, Oslo, 4-7 August, 2011.•Jani Erola & Paul Lambert "Changing homogamy? A test using different socioeconomic measures and Finnish census data". ISA RC28 Spring Meeting 2011 in Essex, UK, April 2011.

Jani Erola "What is "total" and "family background" in the total family background effect? Comparing sibling correlations according to education and class in Finland", SUNSTRAT Project Meeting, University of Stockholm, Sweden, December 2010.

Jani Erola "Sibling Correlations for Education and Class in Finland: Comparing Stratification and Inheritance Effects", University of Aarhus, Copenhagen, Denmark, November 2010.

Jani Erola & Lambert "Social stratification and homogamy in Finland." Social Stratification Research Conference, Utrecht, the Netherlands, 8th-September 2010.•Jani Erola "Intergenerational occupational mobility and the life cycle effects of father's income", University of Stirling, Scotland, May 2010.

Jani Erola & Sakari Karvonen "Parental health and social inheritance. The effect of parental disability on sibling correlation among Finnish young adults." ESA 2009 - 9th Conference of European Sociological Association, Lisbon, Portugal, September 2009.

Jani Erola & Sakari Karvonen "Sibling correlations and parental death - analysis on the Finnish cohort born 1966-70." ISA RC28 Summer Meeting in Yale, US, August 2009.

Researcher visits

Aleksi Karhula, a resarcher visit to Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialwissenschaften (WZB), Berlin, Germany, 21-28.11.2011.


Life course experiences, intergenerational processes, and child well-being and development

This multidisciplinary project (combining expertise from the social and medical sciences) asks what effects parents’ socioeconomic (e.g. occupational and educational) as well as family life histories prior to birth have on the health, well-being and development of their children's early life and beyond. The early years are important for healthy psychological and physical development, and have implications for educational achievement and labor market success in adulthood. The conditions promoting early life are not distributed evenly between children and their families, therefore implying social inequalities in children's lives already from the very beginning. This project presents a new longitudinal perspective on the formation of child health, well-being and development during pregnancy and the first year of life. It offers possibilities for improved understanding of the factors that affect children's healthy development, the social inequalities in these conditions, and the policy interventions such as those focused on parenting, that can be used to promote favorable outcomes. To achieve this, we combine data from the FinnBrain cohort study with population register data to form a unique dataset of parents life course trajectories and children’s health.

Postethnic Activism in the Neoliberal Era. Translocal Studies on Political Subjectivities, Alliance-Building and Social Imaginaries

Principal Investigator: Academy Research Fellow Suvi Keskinen (
This research project examines the conditions, forms and possibilities of postethnic activism in the wake of neoliberal changes and retreat from multiculturalism. Current Nordic countries are characterised by the rise of neo-nationalism and the framing of especially Muslims and non-western minorities as problematic ‘others’ drawing on racialised, gendered and sexualised discourses. Profound changes have simultaneously occurred in the conditions for political action. The neoliberal political rationality implies an emphasis on individualisation and entrepreneurialism, whereby race, gender and class-based inequalities are constructed as individual failures instead of social processes. Political subjects seen to embody diversity are increasingly entering the public sphere but in doing so are also confronted with the racialised and class-based power relations of it.
Through translocal studies in Denmark, Sweden and Finland this research explores how political subjectivities, activities, alliances and social imaginaries are created in postethnic activism. It examines the ways that neoliberal political rationalities shape the contours of activism and how such rationalities are negotiated, made use of, questioned and resisted by activists. Moreover, it analyses the social imaginaries of gender, belonging, nation, history, community and solidarity elaborated in the activities.
Using interviews, participative observation, media and other visual/textual data, as well as collaborative knowledge production with the research participants the research seeks to address especially two kinds of activism: 1) feminist, queer and women’s groups working with an intersectional frame that pays attention to the interplay of gender, sexuality and racialisation; and 2) community-based activism in racialised urban residence areas. In addition, other groups that aim to mobilise people on basis of a shared racialised position will be included in the study.
This five-year research project (2014-2019) is funded by the Academy of Finland.

The Stopped – Spaces, Meanings and Practices of Ethnic Profiling

The project examines ethnic profiling in Finland with a focus on its prevalence, forms and interpretations of (1) people experiencing profiling and (2) the police. The project analyses also the practices and logics that lead to ethnic profiling. The aim of the project is to enhance understandings of the phenomenon and to make it visible in the society through the means of research, art and journalism. This three-year project is funded by the Kone Foundation (2015-2018).

The research produces knowledge of the ethnicised, racialised, gendered and generational distinctions and practices related to profiling. It also develops understandings of the effects of ethnic profiling for those who are targeted by it. The project analyses the strategies of people who experience being profiled as they seek for means to act in situations of and contest exclusionary practices. The research combines several kinds of quantitative and qualitative methods and data: individual and focus group interviews, participatory observation, and survey questionnaires.

The media- and cultural activities of the project will include the production of an interactive web documentary, journalistic stories and features, and the organisation of discussion events.​

The project has moved to the University of Helsinki 1.9.2017 and its current website can be found at . Also see ​

Project members
Suvi Keskinen, leader, responsible for the research part of the project (;
Kati Pietarinen, journalist, responsible for the media and cultural part of the project
Maryan Abdulkarim, writer and activist
Aminkeng A Alemanji, researcher
Laura Böök, photographer
Markus Himanen, researcher
Antti Kivijärvi, researcher
Kari Kuukka, media expert
Thaddeus Ndukwe, research assistant (until 31.5.2016)
Nirosha Pöyhölä, research assistant
Venla Rousku, research assistant (until 15.9.2017)
Uyi Osazee, researcher (until 30.4.2017)

Tackling Inequalities in Time of Austerity (TITA)

The consortium project Tackling Inequalities in Time of Austerity (TITA) provides a novel and comprehensive analysis of long-term trends in financial inequalities, inequalities in health and well-being and inequalities of opportunities over the life course, and their links to the moral and political climate in society. Thus, it analyses together multiple forms of inequality (such as income, wealth, consumption, education, family dynamics, health, mortality, trust and deprivation) and their interrelationships.

It introduces a holistic framework for mapping the most crucial target groups for policy measures and ensures feasible policy recommendations for reducing inequalities in society for decades to come. It provides tools for policy-learning, both through within-country studies and cross-national comparisons. It exhausts unique longitudinal and time-series data and top-of-the-art statistical methods to fully explore mechanisms of inequality.

>> Read more about TITA

Tracking the Therapeutic (2015-2019)

The TRACKTHERA research project investigates therapeutic technologies and the conceptions and strategies of wellbeing and politics they put forward. By ‘therapeutic technologies’ we mean regimes of knowledge and practice which aim to transform our relationship with ourselves and shape the ways in which we make sense of ourselves and the social world. Read more about the project and the researchers involved in the 'About us' and 'Sub-projects' sections.

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The role of the language spoken at home in the integration process of immigrants and their children

The project focuses on the role of language spoken at home in the integration processes of immigrants and their children. The objective is to further develop theories of integration with respect to the language used at home and bilingualism. One specific aim of the project is to identify the conditions under which the benefits of continued use of the language of origin at home, which have been found for psychosocial and cognitive outcomes, are extended to other dimensions of integration.

The project is divided into three parts, which examine

the life-course and contextual factors associated with different language choices,

the relationship between language used at home and children’s integration outcomes and its variation according to family characteristics, and

the contextual factors that influence the relationship between language used at home and integration. The project uses cross-national and longitudinal survey data from a number of different European countries.

Director of the project is Elina Kilpi-Jakonen.

Other projects

Welfare and Nordic crisis management strategies: A comparative research project
Researcher: Mikko Niemelä
Director: Stefán Ólafsson, University of Iceland

The social legitimacy of targeted welfare: New perspectives on popular welfare deservingness opinions
Researchers: Mikko Niemelä and Johanna Kallio
Director: Wim van Oorschot, Leuven University

Gender and health impacts of policies extending working life in Western countries
Researcher: Mikko Niemelä
Director: Aine Ni Leime, National University of Ireland Galway
Partners: ISCH COST Action IS1409 (

Tracking the therapeutic: Ethnographies of wellbeing, politics and inequality
Researchers: Harley Bergroth, Laura Lyytikäinen, Johanna Nurmi, Inna Perheentupa, Tatiana Tiaynen-Qadir
Director: Suvi Salmenniemi

Postethnic Activism in the Neoliberal Era. Translocal Studies on Political Subjectivities, Social Imaginaries and Alliance-building
Researcher Suvi Keskinen

Hacking the Self: Ethnography on technology-mediated body optimization in late capitalism
Harley Bergroth

The transformation of Finnish labour market corporatism in the Euro-era
Paul Jonker-Hoffrén

Housing policy: towards retrenchment
Hannu Ruonavaara

Second-generation transnational political participation in Kurdish communities towards Kurdistan
Mari Toivanen

The Puzzle of the Psyche: Therapeutic Knowledge and Selfhood in a Comparative Perspective
Research Group: director Suvi Salmenniemi and Virve Peteri, Laura Lyytikäinen, Arttu Saarinen, Tatiana Tiaynen-Qadir, Inna Perheentupa, Anne Birgitta Pessi

Examples of ongoing Doctoral Thesis

Chuan-Ying Liu: The social situation and social welfare of transnational marriage migrants in Taiwan"

Kathleen Mufti: Representations of Human Trafficking in Texas and Beyond: who draws the line?

Evgenii Volen: Changing Identity of Russian-speaking Minority in Finland in Condition of Political and Economic Conflicts Between Russia and the EU


  • NordForsk Reserch Network: "Register-Based Life Course Studies: Sociological, Demographic and Economic Perspectives"
  • Turku Center for Welfare Research (TCWR)
  • Power Shifts in Agenda Setting - The Making and Challenging of the Finnish Competition State (funded bu Academy of Finland)

Other co-operation

    Jani Erola (University of Turku) ja  Paul Lambert University of Stirlingin): "Social stratification scales and homogamy"
    Jani Erola ja Aleksi Karhula (University of Turku) Anette Fasang ja Marcel Raum (University of Humboldt/WZB): "How similar is family formation among siblings?"
    An international comparative book project, director Lynn Prince Cooke (University of Bath), partners Jani Erola, Juho Härkönen ja Marika Jalovaara: “Gender Equality in Relationship Transitions”
    Jani Erola ja Pekka Räsänen (University of Turku), David Reimer (University of Aarhus), Kristoffer Kropp (University of Copenhagen): "Publication trends in the Nordic sociology"
    An international comparative book project as part of  eduLIFE project directed by Hans-Peter Blossfeld (European University Institute), partners Elina Kilpi-Jakonen, Jani Erola and Aleksi Karhula


COVID-19-tutkimuskatsaus 2/2021 (2021)

Vapalahti Olli, Sironen Tarja, Pimenoff Ville, Auranen Kari, Leino Tuija, Karvonen Sakari, Toivanen Otto, Ylöstalo Hanna, Vainikainen Mari-Pauliina, Mäkinen Saku, Arponen Anni, Heinikoski Saila, Limnéll Jarno, Salo Ahti
(D4 Published development or research report or study)