Risto Heiskala


European state nobility and fatal problems: Imaginaries of the Finnish political and administrative elite in the European Union (ESN) is an Academy of Finland financed project starting at UTA/SOC in September 2017 (see the abstract of the project description in the end). Researchers of the project (Risto Heiskala and Jari Aro) welcome contacts from interested students of sociology or other social sciences willing to work on a MA thesis related to the project. In addition to interviews and research literature the project works on two such data sets, which may provide possibilities for work in the form of a MA thesis. In the first case the data is mainly in English (and sometimes in other EU languages) but the thesis can be written either in Finnish or in English. In the second case data is in Finnish, which is why the topic is described in Finnish even if here too the thesis can be written either in Finnish or in English.

  1. Genealogy of the European State Nobility: The study first identifies a relevant group of eurocrats or europoliticians such as the members of the current Commission, the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, the Court of Justice of the European Union or certain group of Members of the European Parliament. CVs of this group are then collected from the internet (starting from the website of the EU but utilizing also other sources when possible) and used as data in a study asking where do these people come from (from which schools and universities), what kind of previous career they have, and (when such information is available) what kind of family background they have. The study is inspired by Bourdieu’s sociology but the students volunteering for the task need not be heavy-users of social theory.
  2. Suomalaisten eurooppalaisen valtioaatelin jäsenten elämäkertojen ja pamflettien analyysi: Paikannetaan relevantti joukko mainittuja kirjoja ja aloitetaan niiden maailmankuvan tutkimus kysymällä ensin jokaiselta mm. seuraavat kysymykset: Millainen on sisäiskertojan luonnekuva = habitus & asento suhteessa maailmaan (mallitutkimuksia mm Bellah et al: The Habits of the Heart ja Lamont: Money, Morals, Manners)? Millainen on se mahdollinen maailma, jonka teksti implikoi? Millainen on tarina, jonka kirja kertoo?  Mikä on kirjan ”sanoma”: mitä on tehtävä, kenen ja mille asioille? Kysymysten analyysi etsii jäsentynyttä kuvausta maailmasta, jossa eurooppalaisen valtioaatelin suomalaiset jäsenet elävät.
  3. Work on the theory of historical sociology: This topic does not have a straight link to the ESN project but Heiskala renews the offer, which he has previously made to instruct MA theses on the work of one or more historical sociologists such as Michael Mann, Charles Tilly and Immanuel Wallerstein.

Abstract of the project description of ESN: Fatal problems in the form of the runaway global economy, environmental crisis, inequality, and lack of security loom over our heads in the globalizing world. For smaller states a route to a sustainable solution of such problems may be cooperation within political units such as the EU. The project studies how the field of action of the Finnish political and administrative elite responsible for the Finnish line in the EU or working for the EU is structured; how they themselves conceptualize the reality in which they act; whether they find the fatal problems important and possible to solve; and how they perceive the role of the EU in this. Statistics, policy documents, research literature, pamphlets and blogs are used to describe the objective structures of the field. The in-depth study of the ‘possible worlds’ in which the Finnish segment of the ‘European state nobility’ lives and how it relates to the fatal problems will be based on 40 extensive expert interviews of its members.


Contact: Risto Heiskala (PI), risto.heiskala@uta.fi tai 040 741 7518; Jari Aro, jari.aro@uta.fi