Associate Professor of Sociology (on leave)
Academy Research Fellow (until 31 August 2018)
Office hours: please contact by e-mail: semi.purhonen (at) uta.fi
I am a sociologist of culture, yet equally interested in themes of stratification, inequality, social change, generations and comparative research. As a scholar, I take versatile and wide-ranging approaches and use both quantitative and qualitative methods. My aim is to carry out first-class empirical social research with a strong theoretical emphasis. In other words, along with being interested in empirical research, I am also deeply engaged in discussions of conceptual issues and sociological theories.
I was trained in sociology at the University of Helsinki in the 1990s and early 2000s. My dissertation (2007) was about generations and generational experiences of the baby boom cohort in particular. I started doing empirical cultural sociology, broadly inspired by Bourdieu, already before earning the PhD, in a project on cultural capital and tastes in Finland. I continued with the theme in my personal postdoctoral project, in which the focus was on cross-national comparative work between Finland and the UK. In 2014, I completed, together with a group of researchers, a comprehensive study of cultural distinctions and hierarchies in Finland. Since 2013, I have directed a research group studying the relationship between social and cultural stratification from a longitudinal and cross-national perspective, for which I was awarded a personal Academy Research Fellowship and which has also attracted other external funding. I started at the University of Tampere as an Associate Professor of sociology (tenure-track position) in fall 2014.
The ongoing project ‘Cultural Distinctions, Generations and Change’ (CUDIGE) explores the changes that have taken place in the classification and social valuation of culture and the arts over the past 50 years. The core of the project focuses on the post-1960s cultural change through the lens of a specific institution in the field of cultural production: the culture sections in European quality newspapers. More precisely, by employing a multi-method research design combining both quantitative and qualitative content analysis, the project involves a comprehensive study of newspaper coverage of culture and the arts in six European countries – Finland, France, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the UK – between 1960 and 2010.
Albeit the earlier project on cultural capital and tastes is ‘officially’ over, I continue with the study of cultural consumption, participation and tastes, often from the comparative and longitudinal angle. My other ongoing areas of interest include comparative study of elites, and, most recently, ‘cultural cartography’ using computational methods of text analysis. The work done in CUDIGE and other previous projects lays the ground for my next research project, entitled ‘The Dynamics of Cultural Stratification: How Cultural Classifications, Hierarchies and Tastes Change’.
I am a member of the editorial board of two scholarly journals: Poetics, the premier journal of cultural sociology, and Tiede & edistys, a Finnish multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal.
Besides occasional lectures, my teaching at Tampere during the research leave includes running BA and Master’s thesis seminars. I am interested in supervising students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) working on topics related to my research interests.
“The Dynamics of Cultural Stratification: How Cultural Classifications, Hierarchies and Tastes Change” (DYNAMICS). This project will start in September 2017 and is funded by the Academy of Finland (2017–2021).
“Cultural Distinctions, Generations and Change: A Comparative Study of Five European Countries, 1960–2010”. This project started in 2013 and is funded by the Academy of Finland (2013–18), Kone Foundation (2013–16) and the University of Helsinki research grants (2013–15); the project website can be found at http://blogs.helsinki.fi/cudige-project.
“Cultural Capital and Social Differentiation in Contemporary Finland”. This project was ongoing between 2005 and 2013, but is still active in terms of publications etc.; the project website can be found at http://blogs.helsinki.fi/kulttuuripaaoma.
Purhonen, Semi (with a 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 differentiation of lifestyles]. Helsinki: Gaudeamus Helsinki University Press. (461 pp.)
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 pp.)
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 pp.)
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 pp.)
Kallunki, Jarmo & Purhonen, Semi (2017, forthcoming) Intergenerational transmission of cultural capital in Finland. Research on Finnish Society. (Accepted)
Heikkilä, Riie, Lauronen, Tina & Purhonen, Semi (2017) 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. DOI: 10.1177/1367549416682970 (OnlineFirst 4 January 2017).
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.
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.
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 & Toikka, Arho (2016) “Big datan” haaste ja uudet laskennalliset tekstiaineistojen analyysimenetelmät: esimerkkitapauksena aihemallianalyysi tasavallan presidenttien 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.
Purhonen, Semi (2016) Generations on paper: Bourdieu and the critique of "generationalism". Social Science Information 55 (1): 94–114.
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.
Purhonen, Semi, Gronow, Jukka & Rahkonen, Keijo (2011) Highbrow culture in Finland: Knowledge, taste and participation. Acta Sociologica 54 (4): 385–402.
Purhonen, Semi (2011) Televisionkatselun sosiaalinen eriytyminen ja yhteiskunnalliset seuraukset nyky-Suomessa [Social stratification of television watching and its social consequences in contemporary Finland]. Yhteiskuntapolitiikka 76 (6): 599–619.
Purhonen, Semi (2011) Televisio ja kulttuuripääoma: ohjelmagenrejen ja mieliohjelmien sosiaalinen eriytyminen nyky-Suomessa [Television and cultural capital: Social differentiation of programme types and favourite programmes in contemporary Finland]. Sosiologia 48 (2): 96–116.
Purhonen, Semi, Gronow, Jukka & Rahkonen, Keijo (2010) Nordic democracy of taste? Cultural omnivorousness in musical and literary taste preferences in Finland. Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts 38 (3): 266–298.
Purhonen, Semi (2009) Haljennut habitus: Bourdieun viimeisiksi jääneet omakohtaiset teokset englanninkielisinä käännöksinä [Cleft habitus]. Tiede & edistys 34 (3): 141–155.
Purhonen, Semi, Gronow, Jukka & Rahkonen, Keijo (2009) Social differentiation of musical and literary taste patterns in Finland. Research on Finnish Society 2: 39–49.