The Identity Work of Glocalization

Event start date
Event start time

Linna building, Väinö Linna auditorium, address: Kalevantie 5

Laura Valkeasuo

Doctoral defence of M.Soc.Sc., M.Sc. Laura Valkeasuo

The Identity Work of Glocalization: The Case of European Science Policy

The field of science of the dissertation is Sociology.

The opponent is Associate Professor Gili Drori (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel). Professor Pertti Alasuutari acts as the custos.

The language of the dissertation defence is English.

The significance of the identity work of policymakers in the process of globalization, and how it guides the change into a direction of glocalization that allows some local discrepancy: a case study of European science policy

The public defense of a doctoral dissertation examining topical phenomena of global and national identity-building will be held on September 8th at University of Tampere’s Linna Building, at 12 o’clock. At the event, open to the public, PhD candidate Laura Valkeasuo will describe her research in context and respond to questions posed by an official “opponent” in the examination process and by interested members of the public.
The dissertation examines European science policy and its practices. It is fruit of research motivated, firstly, by the question of why European collaboration in ERA-NETs, a research-funding mechanism related to the European Research Area program, has persisted even though these cooperative instruments have failed to reach their key goals and, secondly, why nation-states are making similar political choices and employ the same pattern in their political language despite the differences between and within the various societies. These mysteries were approached from the perspective of social identities by exploring who the science-policy actors represent in European cooperation, what kinds of interests are linked to these identities, and how they affect the practices of research funding. At the same time, Valkeasuo gathered information on how credible political agency is being built today.

The research shows that global policy language is embodied in adoption and adaptation at local level because it is a useful instrument in the actors’ identity work. For instance, the “information society” concept, which is part of the global knowledge-based economy discourse, gives Finnish ministries a socially convincing yet flexible tool to aid in reaffirming their social and political importance in Finland. Its roots as a revered international buzzword lend the concept social assertiveness, making it into a resource that ministries can fruitfully employ in making their claims about how important they are in the national state. Furthermore, the research illustrates that European science-policy cooperation is used as a vehicle for positive identity construction by national research-funding organizations. It brings out how the ERA-NET cooperation can continue even if it has not reached some of its main, material, goals. This is the answer that emerged: in today’s climate, actors have a need to be portrayed as rational, advanced, international players. The ERA-NETs serve as a useful tool for reaching this goal. Participation in the trendiest and politically supported forms of international cooperation is in itself a sign that an actor is acting internationally and rationally. Therefore, participation is socially rewarding.

The research shows how ongoing identity work shapes the form of policy diffusion in ways that lead to harmonization yet not isomorphism. It affects the process through which global ideas gain form on the local level and steers it in the direction of “glocalization” – a process of becoming more global and more local. This identity work and simultaneous use of multiple identity categories enables agents to draw on several institutional sources creatively and to construct new kinds of understandings. For example, agents’ opportunity to switch back and forth between global and local identity categories enables them to interpret global ideas from local viewpoints, stretch the boundaries of global principles to fit local features, and hence construct glocalized realities. These realities include both global and local elements for which identity work leads to relatively simultaneous diffusion of global ideas, while the outcomes are locally distinctive.

Together these results indicate that policymaking, both European and national, is largely informed by globally circulating and timely changing ideas and scripts. The research also highlights that globalization doesn’t just happen. Institutional agents – people – produce globalization. As internationally operating and transnationally constructed representatives of organizations and professions, these agents have gained functions and responsibilities for which they are allowed to create, adopt, enact, shape, and globally spread world-cultural scripts. It is particularly this activity, positioned between the global and local, that is leading synchronization of national policies spreading in pulses and, in this, what is often considered to be globalization.


The dissertation is published in the self-publishing, 2017, ISBN 978-952-93-9043-4.

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