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About me

Semi Purhonen is Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, Finland. He is an expert in the fields of cultural sociology, consumption, lifestyles and social stratification; sociology of age, generation and social change; and comparative research and sociological theory. He directs The Dynamics of Cultural Stratification: Tampere Group for Sociology of Culture, which involves a group of researchers studying cultural stratification in different projects at Tampere University.

Between 2013 and 2018, Purhonen worked as Academy of Finland Research Fellow and was the director of an international research project Cultural Distinctions, Generations and Change, the results of which are summarized in a monograph Enter Culture, Exit Arts? The Transformation of Cultural Hierarchies in European Newspaper Culture Sections, 1960–2010 (Routledge 2019, fully available Open Access in 2020). His present project (funded by the Academy of Finland for 2022–2026) is titled Cultures of the Working Class in the 2020s: Fragmentation, Reproduction, Boundaries, Politics (CuWoC). He was also the PI of the Finnish research team participating in INVENT: European Inventory of Societal Values of Culture as a Basis for Inclusive Cultural Policies in the Globalizing World, a Horizon 2020 funded research consortium (2020–2023) including teams from nine European countries. In total, he has published more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific articles and 5 monographs. He is a longstanding member of the editorial board of Poetics, the premium journal of cultural sociology, along with a more recent membership in the editorial board of Cultural Sociology, an official journal of the British Sociological Association. He is the country representative of Finland in ISSP, the International Social Survey Programme.

The core of Professor Purhonen's teaching at Tampere University includes running a regular research seminar on sociology of culture (including students and researchers from several career stages) and the general postgraduate seminar in sociology, as well as organizing lecture courses on the themes such as social change and cultural stratification. He is interested in supervising students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) working on topics related to his research interests. 

Fields of expertise

sociology, sociology of culture, consumption, stratification, social change, comparative research, sociological theory, social research methods

Research career

Full Professor of Sociology (tenured), Tampere University, 2018

Associate Professor of Sociology (tenure-track position), Tampere University, 2014–2018

Academy of Finland Research Fellow, University of Helsinki and Tampere University, 2013–2018

Academy of Finland Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of Helsinki, 2011–2013

Docent (Adjunct Professor) in Sociology, University of Helsinki, 2010

Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Helsinki, 2010

Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of Helsinki, 2007–2010

Doctor of Social Sciences (PhD), Sociology, University of Helsinki, 2007

PhD candidate, Assistant (etc. varying titles), Sociology and Social Policy, University of Helsinki, 2001–2007

Master of Social Sciences (MA), Sociology, University of Helsinki, 2001

Selected publications

Scientific books (monographs)


Purhonen, Semi, Heikkilä, Riie, Karademir Hazir, Irmak, Lauronen, Tina, Fernández Rodríguez, Carlos J. & Gronow, Jukka (2019) Enter Culture, Exit Arts? The Transformation of Cultural Hierarchies in European Newspaper Culture Sections, 1960–2010. London and New York: Routledge. 274 p. (CRESC Culture, Economy and the Social Series; fully available Open Access under a Creative Commons license in 2020 from the publisher's site linked above).

In Finnish

Purhonen, Semi (& the research team: Gronow, Jukka, Heikkilä, Riie, Kahma, Nina, Rahkonen, Keijo & Toikka, Arho) (2014) Suomalainen maku: kulttuuripääoma, kulutus ja elämäntyylien sosiaalinen eriytyminen [The Finnish taste: Cultural capital, consumption and the social stratification of lifestyles]. Helsinki: Gaudeamus Helsinki University Press. 461 p.

Purhonen, Semi, Hoikkala, Tommi & Roos, J. P. (Eds) (2008) Kenen sukupolveen kuulut? Suurten ikäluokkien tarina [To whose generation do you belong? The story of the baby boomers]. Helsinki: Gaudeamus Helsinki University Press. 319 p.

Purhonen, Semi (2007) Sukupolvien ongelma: tutkielmia sukupolven käsitteestä, sukupolvitietoisuudesta ja suurista ikäluokista [The problem of generations: Essays on the concept of generation, generational consciousness, and baby boomers]. Helsinki: Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki, Research Reports No. 251. 377 p.

Purhonen, Semi & Roos, J. P. (Eds) (2006) Bourdieu ja minä: näkökulmia Pierre Bourdieun sosiologiaan [Bourdieu and I: Perspectives on Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology]. Tampere: Vastapaino. 298 p.


Peer-reviewed scientific articles (selected, last ten years)


Sirkka, Ossi & Purhonen, Semi (2024) Space of lifestyles in Finland, 2007 and 2018: Continuity, change, and the role of online activities and everyday participation. Finnish Journal of Social Research (advanced access), 1–20.  

Purhonen, Semi, Verboord, Marc, Sirkka, Ossi, Kristensen, Nete Nørgaard & Janssen, Susanne (2023) Definitely (not) belonging to culture: Europeans’ evaluations of the contents and limits of culture. Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts, 101, 101840.

Heikkilä, Riie, Leguina, Adrian & Purhonen, Semi (2022) The stratification of media usage in Finland, 2007–2018: Signs of socio-political polarization? New Media & Society 24 (5): 1053–1075.

Myrczik, Eva, Heikkilä, Riie, Kristensen, Nete Nørgaard & Purhonen, Semi (2022) Missing out on culture—or not: Danes and Finns’ cultural participation, the pandemic, and cultural policy measures . Nordisk kulturpolitisk tidsskrift 25 (2): 1–24.

Purhonen, Semi, Leguina, Adrian & Heikkilä, Riie (2021) The space of media usage in Finland, 2007 and 2018: The impact of online activities on its structure and its association with socio-political divisions. Nordicom Review 42 (S3): 111–128

Heikkilä, Riie, Karademir Hazir, Irmak & Purhonen, Semi (2020) Live or recorded? Reassessing the “decline of the highbrow arts” debate using European newspaper data, 1960–2010. Cultural Trends. 29 (3): 199–212.

Purhonen, Semi (2020) El espacio de los estilos de vida en una sociedad igualitaria: el caso de Finlandia [The space of lifestyles in an egalitarian society: The case of Finland]. In Luis Enrique Alonso, Carlos J. Fernández Rodríguez & Rafael Ibáñez Rojo (Eds), Estudios sociales sobre el consumo [Social Studies on Consumption]. Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones Sociologicas, pp. 425–448.

Lauronen, Tina, Heikkilä, Riie & Purhonen, Semi (2019) Cultural globalization on the printed page: Stability and change in the proportion of foreign cultural products in European quality newspapers, 1960–2010. Acta Sociologica 62 (2): 211–227.

Purhonen, Semi, Lauronen, Tina & Heikkilä, Riie (2019) Between legitimization and popularization: The rise and reception of U.S. cultural products in culture sections of quality European newspapers, 1960–2010. American Journal of Cultural Sociology 7 (3): 382–411.

Fernández Rodríguez, Carlos J., Heikkilä, Riie & Purhonen, Semi (2018) ¿Hacia una mayor apertura cultural? Un análisis de la cobertura de artículos sobre música en la prensa de referencia de cinco países europeos (1960–2010) [Towards a bigger cultural opening? An analysis of articles on music in the elite press of five European countries (1960–2010)]. Revista Internacional de Sociología 76 (2): e092.

Heikkilä, Riie, Lauronen, Tina & Purhonen, Semi (2018) The crisis of cultural journalism revisited: The place and space of culture in quality European newspapers from 1960 to 2010. European Journal of Cultural Studies 21 (6): 669–686.

Kallunki, Jarmo & Purhonen, Semi (2017) Intergenerational transmission of cultural capital in Finland. Research on Finnish Society 10: 101–111.

Karademir Hazir, Irmak & Purhonen, Semi (2017) Kültürel Açılım, Hepçillik ve Seçkin Sanatın Düşüşü: Türkiye-Avrupa Karşılaştırması [Cultural opening, omnivore and the decline of the highbrow: A comparison of Turkey and Europe]. İLEF Dergisi – İLEF Journal 4 (1): 29–58.

Purhonen, Semi & Heikkilä, Riie (2017) Food, music and politics: The interweaving of culinary taste patterns, “highbrow” musical taste and conservative attitudes in Finland. Social Science Information 56 (1): 74–97.

Purhonen, Semi, Heikkilä, Riie & Karademir Hazir, Irmak (2017) The grand opening? The transformation of the content of culture sections in European newspapers, 1960–2010. Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts 62: 29–42.

Gronow, Jukka, Heikkilä, Riie & Purhonen, Semi (2016) Legitimacy of taste and “good” taste. In Kirsti Jõesalu & Anu Kannike (Eds), Cultural Patterns and Life Stories. Tallinn: Tallinn University Press, pp. 393–427.

Purhonen, Semi (2016) Generations on paper: Bourdieu and the critique of “generationalism”. Social Science Information 55 (1): 94–114.

Purhonen, Semi (2016) Zeitgeist, identity and politics: The modern meaning of the concept of generation. In Ivor Goodson, Ari Antikainen, Pat Sikes & Molly Andrews (Eds), The Routledge International Handbook on Narrative and Life History. New York: Routledge, pp. 167–178.

Purhonen, Semi, Lauronen, Tina & Heikkilä, Riie (2015) Into the great wide open? A comparative study of the contents of newspaper culture sections in the UK and Finland, 1970–2010. Research on Finnish Society 8: 5–18.

Purhonen, Semi & Gronow, Jukka (2014) Polarizing appetites? Stability and change in culinary tastes in Finland, 1995–2007. Food, Culture and Society 17 (1): 27–47.

Purhonen, Semi & Wright, David (2013) Methodological issues in national-comparative research on cultural tastes: The case of cultural capital in the UK and Finland. Cultural Sociology 7 (2): 257–273.

Wright, David, Purhonen, Semi & Heikkilä, Riie (2013) Comparing “cosmopolitanism”: Taste, nation and global culture in Finland and the UK . Comparative Sociology 12 (3): 330–360.

In Finnish

Sivonen, Sara & Purhonen, Semi (2021) Politiikka ja kulttuuriosallistuminen: puoluekanta, konservatiivisuus ja korkea- ja populaarikulttuurinen osallistuminen Suomessa [Politics and cultural participation: The associations of party preference and conservativeness with high and popular cultural participation in Finland]. Sosiologia 58 (4): 355–380.

Sirkka, Ossi & Purhonen, Semi (2021) Homofilia, homologia ja kulttuurisen maun laajuus: miten sosiaaliset verkostot ovat yhteydessä makuun nyky-Suomessa? [Homophily, homology and the breadth of cultural taste: How are social networks associated with taste in contemporary Finland?] Sosiologia. 58 (2): 134–159.

Purhonen, Semi (2020) Vertaileva kulttuurisosiologia ja yhteiskunnallinen muutos (Professorin juhlaluento) [Comparative sociology of culture and social change (An inaugural lecture)]. Sosiologia 57 (1): 91–99.

Wainikainen, Jaakko & Purhonen, Semi (2018) Kielitaidon sosiaalinen eriytyminen nyky-Suomessa: Kuka puhuu ja kuinka montaa kieltä [Social stratification of foreign language competence in contemporary Finland]. Yhteiskuntapolitiikka 83 (3): 245–257.

Purhonen, Semi & Toikka, Arho (2016) “Big datan” haaste ja uudet laskennalliset tekstiaineistojen analyysimenetelmät: esimerkkitapauksena aihemallianalyysi tasavallan presidentin uudenvuodenpuheista 1935–2015 [The challenge of “big data” and new computational methods for text analysis: An example from a topic model of new year’s speeches of Finnish Presidents, 1935–2015]. Sosiologia 53 (1): 6–27.