Migration, Everyday Security and the Resilience of Finnish Society

In public discussion, immigration is often described as a development that undermines everyday local life and local residents’ feelings of security. The project Migration, Everyday Security and the Resilience of Finnish Society (2016–2019) recognises this phenomenon, but it studies the local-level changes related to immigration primarily from the point of view of immigrants and their families. We are interested in the practices that individuals and families with an immigrant background use to create and maintain their ability to function in their changing, precarious and largely unforeseeable everyday lives. The focus is on the different kinds of issues of security on the different levels of everyday life, as well as factors increasing security. The project material is collected using methods of inclusive development research in different areas of Finland.

The research asks:

  • How is the everyday security of individuals and families constructed on the local level?
  • How do the public authority and the actors in civic life build or challenge the security of individuals and families in the everyday lives of immigrants?

The study consists of three sub-projects:

  • The case study Everyday Security and Immigrant Families investigates how asylum seekers, refugees and Russian immigrants generate everyday security and ability to function for themselves and their families. There is a special focus on the role of the welfare state and the third sector in the construction of the ability to function. The material consists of ethnographic interview and observation materials collected in Turku, Tohmajärvi and Kitee.
  • The sub-project The Legislative Framework and Policy of the Inclusion of Immigrants maps the borders related to internal and especially soft security, and studies the effects of politics and legislation on the agency and well-being of immigrants. The research material consists of legislation, legal practice and policy documents. Attention is also paid to the study of the immigrants’ position in the labour market. 
  • The sub-project Immigrants and Social Welfare analyses how immigration and the related cultural changes intermesh with the policies and practices of the welfare state on the local and regional levels. It is implemented as a part of researcher Tiina Sotkasiira’s own project Autonomy or Integration? Immigrants and Welfare in Remote Finnish Communities. The material is collected by way of interviews and observations, and the methods of development research are applied in it.

The project Migration, Everyday Security and the Resilience of Finnish Society is a part of the research consortium Multilayered Borders of Global Security (GLASE) funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) of the Academy of Finland. The consortium is led by Professor James W. Scott from the Karelian Institute of the University of Eastern Finland. In addition to Professor Scott’s research group, it includes the research groups led by Professor Laura Assmuth (University of Eastern Finland), Dr. Minna Jokela (Finnish Border Guard), Professor Pauli Kettunen (University of Helsinki) and Professor Anssi Paasi (University of Oulu).

The research group led by Professor Laura Assmuth is situated at the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Eastern Finland, and it includes the researchers Jaana Palander, Pirjo Pöllänen and Tiina Sotkasiira from the University of Eastern Finland and Researcher Saara Pellander from the University of Helsinki. The project lasts from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2019.