Autonomy or Integration? Immigrants and Welfare in Remote Finnish Communities

The project Autonomy or Integration? Immigrants and Welfare in Remote Finnish Communities (2016–2018) studies the welfare of immigrants living outside growth centres and the ability of the service system, which has been developed to support integration, to identify and support the different factors in immigrants’ welfare.

In this study, remote communities as a concept is not based on statistics; rather, it refers to the part of Finland that has been losing a significant part of its population since the 1960s and, as a result, could be described as constantly fighting for its survival. In remote communities, the question of who comes, who stays, and who leaves is central to the community’s identity. This is also the case in Lieksa, where most of the project’s material is collected.

Theoretically, the study is a part of the tradition of sociology and policy sciences, which is interested in how immigration and cultural factors in a broader sense affect the “institutional repertoires” of the welfare state in certain special local and regional contexts. Methodologically, the study combines ethnographic research and inclusive development research in a way that helps with outlining a new kind of a service system that would increase the opportunities for action of immigrants more systematically. The practical goal of the study is to make visible the tacit knowledge that the authorities in Lieksa, active citizens and “ordinary” residents of Lieksa have accumulated as a result of the migration in the recent years.

Post-doctoral Researcher Tiina Sotkasiira, D.Soc.Sc., from the University of Eastern Finland is responsible for implementing the project.

The blog related to the study can be found at the address: http://blogs.uef.fi/maahanmuuttajat-ja-hyvinvointi/