Who, What, Where, and How?
Welfare Services in Rural Areas 2014

The goal of the project Who, What, Where, and How? Welfare Services in Rural Areas 2014 (1 April 2014 – 31 October 2016) is to make visible the structural changes in welfare services from the point of view of sparsely populated rural areas through three themes: 1) welfare service transitions from the point of view of rural areas outside population centres, 2) closure of village schools from the points of view of everyday lives in rural villages and schoolchildren living in rural areas, and 3) new, local welfare services and the conditions placed on providing them.

The name of the research project refers to analysis of changes in the socio-political service structures, where the usual way of analysing service changes is to ask who produces, who pays and who organises. In addition to these questions, we ask “where” – where services are located – which is an important issue from the rural point of view. The “how” in the title of the study means that we use an example case to analyse the ways of building services that used to be public responsibility in Finland again from a new basis.

The methodological goal is to challenge the assumptions we call methodological urbanism and to develop a rural-oriented research approach. The material has been gathered via telephone interviews and fieldwork. In data collection, attention has been paid to photography as a method and the use, analysis, interpretation and reporting of the photographed material. The idea of images as evidence, like words, has been reflected upon at different stages of research.

One scientific article on the study has been published (Silva Tedre & Ville Pöysä: Opetus lähtee, koulu jää. Maalaiskoulut paikallisyhteisöissään. Yhteiskuntapolitiikka 2015). A book targeted at the general public in addition to academia is to be completed in August 2016. In the book, the project will be reported in both text and images. The book is laid out by Mari Voutilainen, B.Soc.Sc..

The research project is funded by the Rural Policy Committee. Silva Tedre, D.Soc.Sc., from the University of Eastern Finland is responsible for the project. Parts of the project have been implemented by volunteers (Seppo Kovero, D.Soc.Sc., Hanna Moilanen, M.Soc.Sc., Päivi Armila, D.Soc.Sc., Mari Voutilainen, B.Soc.Sc., Silva Tedre, D.Soc.Sc.). For short periods, Katri Issakainen, B.Soc.Sc., Ville Pöysä, B.Soc.Sc., Pirjo Pöllänen, D.Soc.Sc. and Sonja Pöllänen, B.Soc.Sc., have acted as Research Assistants or researchers at different stages of the project.

The research project has its own blog: Kyläkoulun jälkeen (‘After the Village School’).