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university of tampere: institute for advanced social research: fellows: 2010-2011:
Institute for Advanced Social ResearchUniversity of TampereInstitute for Advanced Social Research


Jaana Lähteenmaa

Senior Research Fellow (Utacas) 1.8.2010-31.7.2011

Office: Pinni B, room 3093
Phone: 03 3551 4019

My overall research interests include youth culture, youth policy and the “marginalisation processes” of young people (i.e., the processes themselves and how they are constructed and produced by the society). I am interested in the discourses around “youth problems” in their different forms and the governance of young people, especially in the Finnish context. My methodological orientations include both qualitative and quantitative methods, and their combinations. I have a big interest in reflecting on the limitations of different methodological tools. I acknowledge that all methods have limitations and that we can never find the “absolute truth” about societal processes. Currently, I try to test the possibilities and limitations of the socio-semiotical method of text analysis (originally developed by the “Paris school” of semiotics Greimas et al.)

During my UTACAS-year (2010-2011) the main focus of my research is young unemployed people, and the labour market measures directed at them. Theoretically, I lean on the sociological debate on “agency”. I argue, that we need to take “agency” as a starting point when trying to understand what happens to the young unemployed. I ask why and how some of them sustain their activity and employability when others get “marginalised” (at least from the society’s point of view). I also question why some fall into real despair and depression.

Theoretically my research deals with one of the key problems in sociology: the debate on structure vs. agency. I also try to tackle the question of “reflexivity” in the light of my empirical analysis. I ask, whether the capacity to be reflective is a positive thing for a young unemployed person, especially in times of recession when it is really hard to find work regardless of educational background. Or does reflexivity become a burden, making one’s situation even more painful to bear?

My data includes an Internet survey that I gathered in Spring 2009 (N=770, respondents between 16-29 years). The data also includes long qualitative answers concerning everyday life as unemployed. Moreover, I use two qualitative data corpuses gathered during Finland’s former economic recession in the 1990s. My aim is to do certain comparisons between the recessions and investigate the thoughts, feelings and situations of the young unemployed during the two recessions. At the same time, I am well aware of the severe limitations connected to comparing qualitative data from two different eras.

Visiting address: Ratapihankatu 55, 2nd and 3rd floor
Mailing address: FI-33014 University of Tampere, Finland
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Last update: 11.10.2010 11.55 Muokkaa

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