Driving Forces of Democracy: Patterns of Democratization in Finland and Sweden, 1890-2020

In an international comparison, the democracies of Finland and Sweden appear as unusually stable political cultures. However, this stability has neither been gained without effort nor is its future guaranteed. Therefore, there is a continuous need for more knowledge and public discussion on how they have emerged, transformed and evolved in interaction with new challenges. This is the starting point for the Finnish-Swedish research programme ”The Driving Forces of Democracy”, in which the societal development in the countries in question between 1890 and 2020 is analysed from a comparative perspective by three distinguished research groups from the University of Jyväskylä, University of Helsinki and Södertörn University in Stockholm County.

The programme is initiated and supported by the Swedish-Finnish Cultural Foundation,  it is led by Prof. Henrik Meinander, and has a three years funding (2015-2017) from Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation and The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies.

The research groups analyse the development of democratic practices in Finland ans Sweden as a dynamic between three driving forces: 1) the domestic political culture, 3) geopolitical changes and tensions, 3) the evolution of world economy, including the impact of the technological breakthroughs and its consequences for the labour division. Three phases and with them connected turning points will by analysed; 1890-1930,1930-1980, 1980-2020.

Project 1, lead by Prof. Patri Karonen (University of Jyväskylä), investigates how the administrative stuctures, geopolitical consequenses and macro-economic crises of peace making reflected on the political cultures in the two countries during the epoch 1890-1930. Other members of the research group are Prof. Jari Ojala and Mr Matti Roitto, MA.

Project 2, lead by Prof. Henrik Meinander (University of Helsinki), focuses on the golden age of the nation state between 1930 and 1980 from the following angles; Political impact of the export industry elites (Dr. Oula Silvennionen), The year 1968 in cross section (Henrik Meinander), Radio and television as public arenas (Prof. Anu Koivunen), The Left-wing intellectual Erkki Vala (Dr. Ainur Elmgren).

Project 3, lead by Prof. Kjell Östberg (Södertörn University) is predominatly highlighting the epoch 1980-2020 and through following themes: Polical mobilisation and the parties in a new age (Kjell Östberg), Welfare state reforms: the case of school (Dr. Janne Holmén), Gender equality as ideology and practice (Prof. Eva Blomberg), The Swedish Peoples Party in Finland (Prof. Torbjörn Nilsson).