Restructuring the state: Reading the government programme

This invitational workshop gathers together five research projects based at different universities in Finland. The projects share in common a concern with the restructuring of the Finnish state. The projects focus on different policy sectors: social policy, gender equality policy and employment policy. At this workshop researchers from the projects will consider the gender dimensions of the restructuring and reform of the state. They will do so via focusing on the most recent set of reforms to the Finnish state, especially the reforms embedded in the current government’s programme ‘Finland, a Land of Solutions’.

DATE 11.4.2017  VENUE: University of Tampere, Linna Building Rm 5016.


10.00-10.30 Coffee, welcome, introduction


Anna Elomäki, Johanna Kantola, Anu Koivunen & Hanna Ylöstalo (Tasa-arvovaje/The Gender Equality Deficit project)

Feminist resistance in the “strategic state”

Tasa-arvovaje/The Gender Equality Deficit is a project funded by Kone Foundation (2016-2017) which aims to popularize scientific knowledge on gender equality and to bring it into public debates on economics and austerity politics as well as to political decision-making.

Our more theoretically focused aim is to explore the changing Finnish state from the perspective of gender and feminist resistance. We are particularly interested in how gender equality can be promoted in the era of neoliberalism and right wing politics. In the current context, new forms of governance and ideological shifts influence public governance. We look, on the one hand, at the changing conditions of state gender equality policy in what we call the “strategic state”. On the other hand, we study how the new forms of governance that emphasize “strategic” management practices and the new ideological context change the conditions of feminist resistance within the feminist movement.


Lena Näre, Tiina Vaittinen & Minna Zechner (Vaiva collective)

Worthy of Care: Ailment in the Heart of Society

Our presentation builds on a recently published monograph Hoivan arvoiset: Vaiva yhteiskunnan ytimessä, coauthored by a transdisciplinary collective of care researchers, the Vaiva-collective. Focusing on the Finnish elderly care from the micro to the macro level, from history to the present, from the household to the transnational commodification of care services, the book argues that our ailments, bodily fragility and existential care needs are generative of social orders and political economies, rather than burdens to be erased and denied. We make the ethical argument that ailment is part of human life at all times and in all societies, and thus the politics of care should begin with a politics of ailment. This perspective radically challenges the ethics of treating care as a tradeable commodity, and a vehicle for capital accumulation.

LUNCH 12.30-13.00 (in seminar room)


Helena Hirvonen & Eeva Jokinen (Lean)

Gendered processes of modern organizational models: Lean production in the Finnish public service sector

Lean production has emerged in the 21st century as one of the modern organizational models of public service management for governments who struggle to do more for less. Originating from automobile industry in Japan, Lean production has gained growing popularity in human service industry, and also in the management of health and social care services. The female-friendly Nordic welfare states have been in the forefront of applying Lean in public services. Yet, rather few studies have looked at how Lean production affects the state-bound, feminine (semi-)professions in health and social care services.

Our paper presents a framework for a qualitative study that examines the employee effects of Lean in the Finnish public service sector. We ask: How does Lean encourage and enforce reformulation of care practices, relations of power and professionalism in public service organizations? Theoretically, the study is premised on an intersectional and multi-dimensional viewpoint and understanding of gendered processes in lean production. These are the systemic, the performative and the subjective dimension.


Anna Elomäki, Johanna Kantola, Paula Koskinen-Sandberg & Milja Saari (GePoCo):

Labour market organisations filling the void in governmental gender equality policy 

The research project GePoCo is funded by the Academy of Finland (2016-2020) and the University of Helsinki Research Funds (2015-2017). By exploring the nexus between corporatism, power and gender our project provides insights into the challenges that surround the tripartite cooperation between trade unions, employers’ organizations and the government.

In the seminar we present ongoing work that addresses the transformations of the state and the corporatist system in Finland through an analyzing gender equality positions of Finnish trade unions and employers’ organisations. More specifically, we analyse the gender equality performances of labour market organisations, in other words, how the organisations represent themselves in the field of gender equality policy.  We explore whether the labour market organisations have taken a more active role in advancing gender equality policy under the current government – i.e. filling the void  left by the lack of effective governmental gender equality policies. Our research material covers all the statements, press releases, studies gathered from the websites of the six key organisations and the timeframe extends from 2010-2016.

Coffee 15.00-15.15


Lisa Adkins, Mona Mannevuo & Hanna Ylöstalo (Social Science for C21st):

Neuroeconomics Meets the Workfare State: The Case of UBI in Finland

Social Science for the C21st (2015-19, funded by Academy of Finland) considers shifts in the economy-society relation in post-Fordist capitalism. It is concerned in particular with the complex process of economization, that is, with the process of the folding of the economy into society.

Our presentation considers the ongoing two-year experiment with universal basic income (UBI) in Finland. According to the Finnish Government’s Strategic Programme (2015) UBI is part of a wellbeing and health project set to encourage citizens to take better control of their lives. Despite this positioning we suggest that UBI should in fact be located in terms of the politics of workfare and in particular as the latest stage of workfarism in Finland. What is unique in this experiment is how UBI connects neuroscience, behavioural economics and social psychology with workfare politics. Despite widespread international support, we suggest therefore that the UBI experiment in Finland should be understood as concerning a restructuring of the workfare state which while removing conditionality and sanctioning attempts to promote and embed proactivity, self-care and individual decision-making in regard to work and working.

16.15-16.30 Discussion: Plans for the future

18.00 Dinner at Restaurant Tampella

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