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Tampere University gets 12 new Academy of Finland-funded projects in social sciences

Published on 27.5.2021
Tampere University
Kuvituskuva Kullervo.
The Research Council for Culture and Society of the Academy of Finland granted nearly €30 million for 59 new Academy Projects. Eight of the funded projects are consortium projects, and the total number of sub-projects is 71. Tampere University received funding for 12 projects.

The Academy Project funding is awarded for a period of four years. The Research Council for Culture and Society finds it important that Academy Projects involve researchers at different stages of their careers. However, the focus is on promoting postdoctoral careers.

The Academy Project funding scheme is the most important funding instrument of the Research Council for Culture and Society for promoting the impact and renewal of research. In addition to the high scientific quality of the research plan, the Research Council pays special attention to projects that combine high quality with strong academic and societal impact and/or scientific renewal.

The politics of embodied encounters in asylum seeking

Professor of Regional Studies Jouni Häkli’s (MAB) Academy Project investigates the politics of embodied encounters in asylum seeking.

The study concerns embodied encounters between asylum seekers, the migration regime, and societies that host refugees. The project consists of three parts: an analysis of the asylum policies of the European Union and Finland, the study of encounters in the asylum application process, and an ethnographic study of experiences of personhood in everyday encounters.

Embodied political presence is studied as an asset that asylum seekers have when they encounter migration governance which often seeks to reduce them into manageable bodies. The project draws from philosophical anthropology with an understanding of human corporeality as a duality of objective and subjective embodiment embedded in reflexivity. The researchers will also investigate the potential of corporeality as an interface between political subjectivity and agency. The project will increase the understanding of the political dynamism related to asylum and refuge policies.

Affective activism: sites of queer and trans world-making

University Lecturer Tuula Juvonen’s (SOC) project Affective Activism: Sites of Queer and Trans World-Making investigates the ways in which queer and trans activists claim space for themselves and their world-making.

An interdisciplinary approach to affective activism will produce original interview data and cutting-edge analysis of the affective arrangements of queer and trans activists’ actions, strategies, and visions for the future. By focusing especially on affective arrangements, the project will contribute to scholarly discussions on the role of affect in queer and trans activism, and its place in societal change within the Evangelical-Lutheran Church, memory institutions, community building, and arts.

The results will offer conceptual and practical tools for self-reflection for the communities involved in the project. The research conducted in the field of queer and trans studies at Tampere University will also enrich and benefit public discussions concerning queer and trans lives and liveability.

Transnational knowledge networks in higher education policymaking

Professor of Education Jaakko Kauko’s (EDU) project will analyse the structure and operation of transnational networks in higher education policymaking.

The project will investigate the role and soft power of these networks with the aim of understanding how Finnish higher education policymaking functions in the EU context as well as how the use and selection of knowledge informs policymaking on higher education. To achieve this, the project will combine network analysis, interviews, and participant observation.

Lived religion and the changing meaning(s) of disability from the late Middle Ages

University Research Jenni Kuuliala’s (SOC) project is called Lived religion and the changing meaning(s) of disability from the late Middle Ages to the industrial revolution.

The project analyses the way religious life and religious understanding influenced the lived experience and everyday life of people with physical and mental disabilities in Europe from the late Middle Ages to the industrial revolution. The project analyses a large set of religious and secular archival material from the period from ca. 1450 to 1850 to discover the continuities and changes in the ways bodies and minds deemed different were viewed and the role faith played in this process.

The results will also increase understanding and help untangle the processes that have led to the marginalised position of disabled people in the modern, Western world.

Carbon accounting and organisational decision-making

Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Research Fellow Matias Laine’s (MAB) project will investigate carbon accounting and organisational decision-making. The CARACC consortium will also include Professor Janne Järvinen from the University of Oulu.

The project takes an accounting perspective on the key sustainability issue of climate change and global carbon emissions. The researchers find evident that any sustainable transition to a low-carbon future in societies depends on getting the business world involved. Financial and non-financial information are key drivers of decision-making in organisations. This means that that the capability of organisations, financial markets and eventually societies more broadly to transition towards a sustainable low-carbon future is dependent on the quality of information they have at their disposal. A key challenge in this quest is how the use of carbon and subsequent carbon emissions are quantified and made subject to the financial calculations on which private firms and other organisations base their decision-making.

This project will thus use case studies and the goal is to produce new knowledge on how carbon accounting can be incorporated into organisational decision-making processes.

Mid-life antecedents of the disease burden at old age

University Researcher Subas Neupane’s (SOC) project investigates the mid-life antecedents of the disease burden at old age with individual participant data meta-analysis of multi-cohort studies.

The world is facing the challenge of ageing societies with a growing burden of morbidities and disabilities in old age. There is a lack of scientific knowledge that considers the impact of working conditions during people’s life-course on their health burden in old age. The IPD-MAD project will study the effect of mid-life antecedents on health at old age and seeks to explain the mechanisms associated with health impairments in people’s final years. The aim of the project is to reduce the disease burden.  The project will use longitudinal cohort data that spans from mid-life to old age. The pooled effect of various exposures will be studied using a meta-analytical approach to analyse individual participant data.

This study will contribute to the current knowledge on how to manage the new societal challenge of ageing. Multidisciplinary collaboration with international experts will raise the quality of this project, improve the generalisability of the findings, and provide opportunities for the renewal of research.

Affective practices in online hate speech

Professor of Communication and Media Studies Kaarina Nikunen’s (ITC) project in the HAFFECT consortium will investigate the online affective practices where hate speech is produced, experienced, and managed in the digital era.

HAFFECT investigates the ways in which emotions connected to hate speech are produced, circulated, experienced, managed, and re-used. The project also pays attention to the ways in which digital platforms take part in hosting and creating affective practices around hate speech and how managing hate speech itself has become a business for technology companies.

In the intersection of media, cultural and technology studies, HAFFECT will develop the theoretical, methodological, and empirical understanding of hate speech. This means investigating the complexity and multiplicity of the phenomenon to understand the ways it affects individual experiences and society at large.

Managing gendered chronic disease

Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Research Fellow Venla Oikkonen’s (SOC) project is called Managing gendered chronic disease: embodied differences and biomedical knowledge in the treatment of migraine, endometriosis, and fibromyalgia (GenDis).

The project examines the management of gendered chronic disease at the intersection of personalised medicine, changing rationalisations of medicine, and global drug shortages. It focuses on endometriosis, migraine, and fibromyalgia. The data consists of bioscience research literature and media accounts of the diseases, patients’ online platforms and discussion forums, and ethnographic interviews and observations among patient organisations, clinicians, governmental and public health officials involved in the drafting of treatment guidelines, representatives of the pharmaceutical industry as well as two biomedical research institutions that strive to understand the mechanisms of disease and develop drug therapies.

The aim is to understand the emerging uses of the concept of gender and embodied differences in increasingly personalised and rationalised medicine as well as the changing preconditions of living with a gendered chronic disease.

Mediated feminisms in contemporary Russia

In her Academy Project Saara Ratilainen (ICT) will investigate mediated feminisms in contemporary Russia.

During global media campaigns, feminism has increasingly become a public phenomenon. Through media publicity, feminist ideology reaches new audiences and gives feminist politics multiple meanings in everyday life and lifestyle. Understanding this interaction is particularly important in contexts where political participation is controlled, such as in Russia.

The project conducted at Tampere University provides a novel perspective on the challenges and potential of feminist cultural politics in contemporary (semi-)authoritarian states. It investigates how feminism and publicity interact, what feminism as a media discourse means, and the reception of mediated feminism. The analysis is based on media data and focus group interviews in three Russian regions. The findings will be published in academic journals, articles for the general audience, and digital publications for media professionals and NGOs.

Touch and affect in health care interaction

Professor Johanna Ruusuvuori’s (SOC) project studies touch and affect in health care interaction.

Touch and affect play an important role in health care interaction. Empathetic touch has a positive impact on health and well-being. However, many treatments requiring contact may cause negative feelings among both professionals and patients. The project analyses the role of touch and emotions in different types of health care encounters with video recordings of real-life health care interaction in three cultural contexts. The project will analyse emotions and touch as a process produced jointly by the parties involved and examine their significance as an integral part of achieving the goals of treatment situations.

The study will contribute to a theory of the relationship between touch and emotion and help to develop health care interventions – such as technology-mediated care – that consider the importance of touch and emotion.

Accounting for interactionally troublesome exchanges

The title of University Lecturer Melisa Stevanovic’s project is Accounting for interactionally troublesome exchanges: paradoxes, biases, and inequalities in storying, perceiving, and countering problematic social experiences.

Social interaction is often about shared enjoyment and solidarity, but it is also a locus of troubling experiences of inequality, discrimination, and disempowerment. The possibility to account for such interactionally troublesome exchanges is key to counteracting their negative effects and to calling for social change. The project will investigate such accounts hypothesising that people do not have equal possibilities to address the types of trouble that they encounter on a daily basis.

Drawing on a conversation-analytically informed understanding of the significance of minor details of interaction, insights from narrative theory, and a novel interdisciplinary combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, the researchers will investigate the production and reception of these accounts, the concerns of the self portrayed in them, and the perceptions and explanations of interactional trouble by different people.

The results will inform interventions to support well-being at work.

Towards a theory and practice of humanised digital future

The title of Professor of Adult Education Juha Suoranta’s (SOC) Academy Project is Speculative social science fiction of digitalisation in higher education: towards a theory and practice of humanised digital future.

Digitalisation and datafication are shaping higher education practices and operations models. At the same time, the role of teachers is changing. In the age of data-driven education, teachers tend to be regarded as mere objects of digitalisation rather than agents who actively participate in creating digital futures. The project contributes to the highly topical and controversial research area of data-driven education.

The study applies institutional ethnography to ask how the power relations and dominant interpretations created by datafication and digitalisation guide teachers’ work, what kind of possible digital futures teachers outline, and which ingredients make up the theory and practice of a human-centred digital future. In addition, the project develops innovative methods to create inclusive and emancipatory digital higher education.

Academy of Finland’s press release 26 May 2021

Photograph: Jonne Renvall