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About me

Academic Profile

Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen is professor of sociology at the Tampere University since 2012. His previous appointments include the posts as fellow (2005-2009; 2012-2014) and as the Deputy Director (2013-2014) at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, and as professor of sociology at the University of Helsinki (2009-2012); he served as the Head of Discipline at Tampere University between 2014-2020.

Lehtonen’s orientation to social sciences is that of conceptually informed empiricism. This implies posing basic questions of social philosophy in research sites provided by empirical case studies; another name for this approach is doing ‘fieldwork in philosophy’. His main interest areas have been the sociology of insurance, risk and uncertainty; science and technology studies; economic sociology; the sociology of consumption and social theory.  

Lehtonen’s present work centres on three topic areas. First, he works on the management of uncertainty and on the uses of financial technologies. Especially, he has examined how life, health and death are commodified in the contemporary practices of insurance, and how the dynamic relationship between social security and markets shapes the conditions of existence for people. More recently, this work has led him to study questions related to environmental problems with teams externally funded by the WISE and LONGRISK research consortia.

Second, Lehtonen is involved in a project that examines how waste and waste management condition the present day western societies’ way of life. Lehtonen’s case study, developed jointly with Professor Olli Pyyhtinen (Tampere University), analyses freeganism and dumpster diving, that is, practices of acquiring food stuffs from trash bins. As an alternative way of life, freeganism brings very clearly to the fore contemporary ideals and practices related to consumption, food, cleanliness, gift giving, proprietary rights and waste management. 

Finally, Lehtonen’s theoretical work addresses, from many angles, the basic question concerning the nature of collectives. He has published a monograph in Finnish on the theme of materiality and social sciences (Aineellinen yhteisö, in English The material community, Tutkijaliitto 2008). In addition, he has published studies on authors such as Georg Simmel, Bruno Latour, Michel Serres, Gilles Deleuze and Ian Hacking, among others.


Related to the theme area of risk, uncertainty, insurance and welfare, Lehtonen currently leads two externally funded research projects. The first of these is part of the consortium Creative adaptation to wicked socio-ecological disruptions (WISE, Academy of Finland, STN/SRC, 2018-2023). This consortium is led by Professor Janne Hukkinen at the University of Helsinki, and Lehtonen is its Deputy Consortium Leader. The second research projects is also part of a consortium led by Professor Hukkinen, Decision support to manage the long-term growth of environmentally induced multi-hazard risks in urban areas (LONGRISK, Academy of Finland, 2020-2023). 

Previous externally funded research projects with larger teams, directed by Lehtonen, include Insurance and the problem of insecurity (Academy of Finland, 2015–2018), Managing insecurities: risk and technologies of welfare (Academy of Finland, 2009–2011), and Family, security, and the ethos of welfare (The University of Helsinki Three Year Research Funding, 2006–2009).



Lehtonen’s current teaching responsibilities include the 'General introduction to sociology' lecture course (YKT.214), 'From social construction to the construction of the social' (YKT.YKE.700, SSR.GTS.020, jointly with Mianna Meskus and Olli Pyyhtinen), the lecture course on 'Climate Change and Preparedness' (in Finnish, SOOS04), and the directing of a graduate seminar in Sociology. In addition, Lehtonen directs (jointly with Risto Heiskala and Arto Laitinen) a reading group on philosophical and social theoretical literature.

Research fields

Insurance; Risk and uncertainty; Waste and society; Economic sociology; Science and technology studies; Social Theory.

Selected publications

On climate change preparedness and adaptation

  • Reinekoski, T., Lahikainen, L., Virtanen, M., Sorsa, T., Lehtonen, T.-K. (2022) Frictional rhythms of climate work in city governance. The Sociological Review, published online 14 October 2022. 
  • Virtanen, M. J., Reinekoski, T., Lahikainen, L. and Lehtonen, T.-K. (2022) Travels and trials of climate knowledge in Finnish municipalities. Science & Technology Studies, 35 (1) 1–20.
  • Silvast, A., Kongsager, R., Lehtonen, T.-K., Lundgren, M., Virtanen, M.J. (2021) Critical infrastructure vulnerability: A research note on adaptation to climate change in the Nordic countries. Geografisk Tidsskrift-Danish Journal of Geography, 121 (1), 79–90.

On climate change and insurance

On digitalization of personal insurance

Other papers on private insurance, solidarity, risk and uncertainty 

  • Lehtonen, T.-K. (2017) Domesticating insurance, financializing family lives. The case of private health insurance for children in Finland. Cultural Studies. 31 (5): 685–711.
  • Lehtonen, T.-K. and Liukko, J (2015) Producing solidarity, inequality and exclusion through insurance. Res Publica. 21 (2): 155–169.
  • Lehtonen, T.-K. and Van Hoyweghen, I (2014) Insurance and the economization of uncertainty. Journal of Cultural Economy. Vol. 7 (4): 532–540.
  • Lehtonen, T.-K. (2014) Picturing how life insurance matters. Journal of Cultural Economy. Vol. 7 (3): 308333.
  • Lehtonen, T.-K. and Liukko, J (2011) The forms and limits of insurance solidarity. Journal of Business Ethics. Vol. 103 (3): 33–44.
  • Lehtonen, T.-K. and Liukko, J. (2010) Justifications for commodified security. The promotion of private life insurance in Finland between 1945–1990. Acta Sociologica, Vol. 53 (4): 371–386.

On waste and society

On consumer practices

On social theory