Research

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“Talking about research in neoliberalism, marketisation and knowledge capitalism….A tough one. I guess I belong to the old school where research used to be political, critical and oh well…independent. (I know, inspired of Foucault, there is no such a thing as independent). Sometimes it is a lonely job to continue as a critical scholar in the University. But let’s not give up.”

 

My research could be characterised as multi-voiced and multidisciplinary. It provides new openings, theoretisations and critical analysis of sociology and politics of education from primary school to upper secondary school, vocational education, higher education and adult education.

My research is mainly located to University of Helsinki Faculty of Educational Sciences and Faculty’s key research area of KYK (Education, Society and Culture). Themes such as marketisation of education, knowledge capitalism, social exclusion and societal differences, prejudice, discrimination, marginalization and inequalities have been the focus of my publications. I have analysed societal power relations and agency perspectives at universities and in research, vocational education, teacher training, youth work, adult education and in public sector development activities. Central results of my research have been in empirically-grounded theoretical considerations and developing further understanding of social justice as multifaceted economical, cultural and social phenomenon.

I guess I could argue that my most intensive theoretical and methodological development has focused on the consequences of marketisation, therapisation and projectisation. This has lead to several international articles and collaboration. I have not been afraid to study difficult topics such as affects of neoliberalism,  ‘disturbing’ behaviour and pathologisation, social exclusion of ‘at risk’ youth, the situation of young men in prison and afterwards, heteronormativity or leeway in market-oriented development work. One of the most important aims has been to break the vicious cycle of individualisation of societal problems revealed in both educational policies and in practices.

I believe that with a greater understanding of the various views of what constitutes democratic education, students, academics and the larger audience will be able to more easily identify problems and challenges that are involved in maintaining inequalities.

What I consider more important than ever is to try to resist writing about equality and social justice as issues that can be synthesised into a singular picture that will tell the whole truth about them. Rather, being able to write about social justice as diverse areas hopefully will encourage readers to ask more critical questions.

I tend to use concepts such as new governance and governmentality, marketisation, knowledge capitalism, neoliberalism, psychologisation, therapisation and entrepreneurialism to grasp some of the important shifts in educational policies and practices. My thinking and research has been inspired by such critical thinkers as Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Bronwyn Davies.

With my colleaques I have developed discourse-deconstructive analysis in several of my publications. I have also utilised genealogical, ethnographical, phenomenographic, narrative approach and action research methods.

Because I understand education as societal, political and cultural and because I seek to bring new perspectives to educational sciences, I like to move in various research fields. These include sociology and politics of education, adult education, youth, feminist and cultural studies and criminology, without forgetting historical and philosophical perspectives.

Because I understand education as societal, political and cultural and because I seek to bring new perspectives to educational sciences, I like to move in various research fields. These include sociology and politics of education, adult education, youth, feminist and cultural studies and criminology, without forgetting historical and philosophical perspectives.

With my research group we are providing new openings, theorisations and critical analysis of sociology and politics of education as well as cultural and feminist studies. Themes such as neoliberalism, marketisation, knowledge capitalism, governance, social exclusion, societal differences, discrimination and inequalities have been the focus of my publications. I have analysed societal power relations and agency perspectives in universities, research, vocational education, teacher training, youth work, adult education and public sector development activities. In addition, social exclusion of ‘at risk’ youth, the situation of young people in prison and afterwards, heteronormativity and the rise of psy-disciplines have been among my interests. One of the most important aims has been to break the vicious cycle of individualisation of societal problems revealed in both educational policies and practices.

With my colleagues I have developed a discourse-deconstructive approach. I have also written about genealogical, ethnographic, narrative and action research methods. Currently I am excited about nomadic drifting.

I’m keen on scifi-literature and I like to Foucault myself. I am an old hippie who was born 10 years too late.

2017

My apologies for not updating my pages so often. So many things happening all the time. For the most recent things you can learn from our AGORA-research centre netpages:

http://blogs.helsinki.fi/agora-sje/

2016

Cross-sectional politics and educational practices in the era of marketization (CRISP)

Research group led by Prof.(tenure track) Kristiina Brunila


We are dedicated to developing research by critically analyzing cross-sectional and decentralized politics and educational practices in the era of marketization, knowledge capitalism, entrepreneurialism and individualization. The role of education is slipping away from knowledge-based education to skills training. Education focuses on enabling and supporting students to become more accountable for their fate in the labor market. To meet present day challenges one seems to need to develop competence of resilience, self-discipline and continuous self-development. In addition, we argue that marketization and individualization are linked to the rise of therapization in education. Therefore we ask how therapeutic and individualistic programs fit market-oriented goals.

We combine sociological, Foucauldian, Deleuzian, Derridean, poststructural, postcolonial and feminist insights to conceptualize cross-sectional and decentralized politics and practices of education. The context of our research includes comprehensive school, vocational and higher education as well as adult education, informal education and working life. Our research methods are diverse. We have developed discourse-deconstructive analysis in several of our publications. We have also utilized genealogical, ethnographic, narrative approach and action research methods.

The research group includes the following researchers (in alphabetical order):

  • Prof.(tenure track) Kristiina Brunila: Education and transitions of young adults in an era of marketization and therapization (see also: www.kristiinabrunila.com).
  • M.Ed. Kristiina Hannukainen: Knowing capitalism, knowledge and subjectivity in Higher Education (PhD-research).
  • M.Soc.Sc Elina Ikävalko: Gender equality planning as a technique of governance (PhD-research, 2015). Peer Supporter does not ask the price. Peer support as part of the changing mental health policy (Post doc-research).
  • M.Ed Ville Kainulainen: A New Era of Workplace Unionism? – Shop Steward Action in Finland’s Low Paid Private Service Sector
  • M.Ed. Tuuli Kurki: At risk to choose differently: Ethnographic research on young people with immigrant backgrounds in educational activation projects (PhD-research, 2015). Healing Immigrants: therapeutic training programmes for young adult immigrants in Finland, England and Australia (Post doc-research).
  • M.Ed. Ameera Masoud: Shaping identities of migrant young learners (PhD-research).
  • M.Ed. Katariina Mertanen: Back to Society. Education as normalising governance of youth considered ‘at risk’ of social exclusion (PhD-research).
  • M.Ed. Anna Mikkola: A critical ethnographic case study on the social construction of resilience among ‘at-risk’ children (PhD-research).
  • M.Ed Kalle Mäkelä: Genealogy of the vulnerability ethos of young people (PhD-research).
  • M.Ed. Sari Mononen Batista-Costa: The Entrepreneurial Self in the Politics and Practices of Education (PhD-research).
  • MA Clare Rawdin: The Effects of Therapeutic Education on Teachers’ Subjectivities (PhD-research).
  • M.Soc.Sc Antti Paakkari: Learning Knowledge Work (PhD-research).
  • M.Ed Hannele Pitkänen: Construction and transformations of discursive formation of local quality evaluation on education in Finland (PhD-research).
  • MA Touko Vaahtera: Figurations of incapability: the cultural understandings of swimming skill (PhD-research).
  • M.Ed. Saija Volmari: Borders of “Truth”, Positions of Power and Global Equality in Higher Education – Internationalization discourses and cross-border cooperation in Finland and Norway (PhD-research).

Youth on the Move – Revisiting the ‘vulnerability zeitgeist’ in an era of market-oriented education (2014-2018)

Director: Prof.(tenure track) Kristiina Brunila


In this research project we ask how politics and practices shape the interests of young people themselves, including those who live outside of education and work. We are dedicated to developing research by critically analyzing cross-sectional politics and educational practices regarding school-to-work transitions. We explore how they influence those young adults who are considered as vulnerable or at risk. More importantly, we argue that by shining the light on the ways in which transitions of vulnerable young adults are constructed by policy makers, professionals, academic researchers and young people themselves, ideas and assumptions about transitions that tend to be taken face value without critical challenge can be challenged, thereby creating more room for young adults’ own interpretations, responses and actions.

To better understand young adults’ lives societal differences such as gender, class, disability, sexuality and cultural background need attention. We study the politics and practices in terms of discursive power by acknowledging the relation of knowledge, discourse and power as productive and regulative. We also combine and develop further collaborative and multi-sited ethnography. We follow the ideas of some recent poststructural ethnographers who deconstruct ethnographic-related concepts, such as data, field, research(ing) subject and voice. It is important to keep in mind, that we are not studying the participants of our research. Rather, we are investigating a topic – an object of knowledge – and constructing knowledge together with our participants.

Project researchers

Post doc-researchers:

  • Elina Ikävalko: Becoming a ‘young hero’ – Peer support as a technique of changing mental health policy in Finland and England
  • Tuuli Kurki: Mental health and psychosocial support programmes for refugees and asylum seekers in Finland, France and Lebanon
  • Maija Lanas: Active Equality in Education – Rethinking disturbing behavior in school

    PhD-researchers:

  • Kristiina Hannukainen: Knowing capitalism, knowledge and subjectivity in Higher Education
  • Ameera Masoud: Shaping Identities of Young Migrant Learners through the Finnish Integration Policy and Lifelong Learning in Finland
  • Katariina Mertanen: Back to Society. Education as normalising governance of youth considered ‘at risk’ of social exclusion
  • Anna Mikkola: A critical ethnographic case study on the social construction of resilience among ‘at-risk’ children
  • Kalle Mäkelä: Governing young people through neoliberal management – A Genealogy of vulnerability of young people in Finland

Research assistant:

International partners

Cartography of collaboration:

  • Two international symposiums
  • Youth & Wellbeing -seminar at Stockholm University (Brunila & Ecclestone, keynotes)
  • Several workshops related to vulnerability and youth-education
    • Crises-workshop (2015)
    • Youth on the Move – revisiting the vulnerability zeitgeist, University of Sheffield (2014)
    • Marketisation, Projectisation and Therapisation of Education and Guidance for ‘at Risk’ Youth: A critical evaluation of implications for policy and practice (2013)
    • The Wheel of Misfortune: Education and Training of Youth as Precarious and Projectised Politics, Umeå University (2012)
    • Therapy Culture -Symposium (invited). Joint Australian Association for Research in Education and Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association Conference, University of Sydney (2012)

Cartography of recent publications

Brunila, K. (2014). The Rise of Survival Discourse in the Era of Therapisation and Marketisation of Education. (Invited article by the editor Professor Evie Zambeta, special number Education in times of Crisis). Education Inquiry, 5(1), 7–23.

Brunila, K., Ikävalko, E., Kurki, T., Mertanen, K., & Mikkola, A. (2016). Revisiting the ’Vulnerability ethos’ in Cross-Sectoral Transition Policies and Practices for Young People. Research in Comparative and International Education, 11(1), 69–79.

Brunila, K., & Lundahl, L. (Eds.). (forthcoming 2016). Youth on the Move. Transitions in International and Critical Perspectives. Bloomsbury.

Brunila, K., Mertanen, K., & Mononen Batista-Costa, S. (forthcoming 2016). Economic Worries and Therapeutic Solutions? Therapeutic Governing of Youth Transitions in an era of Marketisation. In K. Brunila, & L. Lundahl (Eds.), Youth on the Move. Youth Transitions in International and Critical Perspectives. Bloomsbury.

Brunila, K., & Ryynänen, S. (in press). NEW RULES OF THE GAME. Youth training in Brazil and Finland as examples of new global network governance.

Brunila, K., & Siivonen, P. (2016). Preoccupied with the self: towards self-responsible, enterprising, flexible and self-centred subjectivity in education. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 37(1), 56–69.

Ecclestone, K., & Brunila, K. (2015). Governing emotionally vulnerable subjects and “therapisation” of social justice. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 23(4), 485–506.

Edström, C., & Brunila, K. (in press). Troubling Equality in the Nordic Countries with Special Focus on Education and Working Life. Education as change.

Kurki, T., & Brunila, K. (2014). Education and training as projectised and precarious politics. Power and Education 6(3), 283–294.

Mononen Batista-Costa, S., & Brunila, K. (2016). Becoming Entrepreneurial – Transitions and education of unemployed youth. Power and Education, 8(1), 19–34.

Siivonen, P., & Brunila, K. (2014). The making of entrepreneurial subjectivity in adult education. Studies in Continuing Education, 36(2), 160–172.

TASOVA-hanke käynnistyi (2016-2019)

TASOVA – tasa-arvoa aluekehitykseen – kehittämis-, koulutus- ja tutkimusprojekti on käynnistynyt kesäkuussa 2016. Projektin tavoitteena on kehittää tasa-arvo- ja yhdenvertaisuustyön toimintaedellytyksiä sekä osaamista koko Suomessa. Projektia hallinnoi AGORA kumppaneinaan keskeiset tasa-arvo- ja yhdenvertaisuustoimijat. Rahoitus on myönnetty Euroopan Sosiaalirahastosta vuosille 2016-2019 ja TASOVA on meneillään olevista tasa-arvoprojekteista Suomen suurin.

Projektissa mm. kehitetään tasa-arvo- ja yhdenvertaisuusasiantuntijakoulutus, johon osallistujat rekrytoidaan eri puolilta Suomea. Osana projektin kehittämistyötä tuotetaan sukupuolivaikutusten arvioinnit maakuntaohjelmiin, tasa-arvo- ja yhdenvertaisuussuunnitelmia eri organisaatioille sekä kehitetään yhtenäinen EU-rahoitusta hakevien projektien arviointi- ja seurantamenetelmä rahoittajaviranomaisten käyttöön.

2015

AGORA-research centre held a workshop “A global epidemic of mental ill-health? Interdisciplinary perspectives on the educational implications of reconfiguring social, economic and human crises” the 4th and the 5th of June 2015 at University of Helsinki.

You can watch the presentations from here:

http://webcast.helsinki.fi/engage/ui/index.html


2014

AGORA for the Study of Social Justice and Equality in Education established

The AGORA for the study of social justice and equality is a research centre and a research community that coordinates and develops educational and adult educational research, international networks and research projects, provides research based teaching and supervision for PhD students and for educational programmes at the University of Helsinki. It also collaborates with public, private and third sector organisations.

The AGORA provides theoretical and practical insights into social justice and equality in education. Fresh rethinking of the conventional is encouraged.

AGORA net pages:

http://blogs.helsinki.fi/agora-sje/

2013

A new professorship in equality and social justice in education established

A tenure track professorship in equality and social justice in education has been established at the University of Helsinki, which is not only the first of its kind in Finland but also internationally.  I was appointed to this position from the beginning of 2014.

More info about this in the Media-section.

A New Nordic Centre of Excellence for Research in Education

‘Justice Through Education in the Nordic Countries’ (JustEd), is a new Nordic Centre of Excellence for research in education, providing close collaboration of emerging and established research environments. Within JustEd, the core Nordic issue of the role of education for achieving justice is addressed from multiple perspectives. The new Centre of Exellence is coordinated by the Education, Society and Culture research group at the Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki,.

http://blogs.helsinki.fi/just-ed/

Some recent research projects

I was admitted 3 years funding from the University of Helsinki for our research project:

Critical Sociological Analysis of Programs that Assist At Risk Young Adults Transition From Alienation to Civil Participation (2013-2015)

A remarkable assortment of educational programs exists whose mission it is to assist at risk young adults transitions into society. Most of the research on these programs is based on individualistic assessment schemes, personal growth models, and life impact studies inevitably revealing moderate successes. However, there seems to be far less sociological focus on such critical factors as how management of such programs is influenced by politics, what do we mean by terms such as at risk and transition, or on what terms professionals rely on most to conceive and work toward goals of counselling, education, curriculum building or skill attainment.

In this research project the aim is to analyse the extent to which educational politics and educational practices meet the interests of young adults in transition themselves, especially those who are considered socially excluded (at risk) young adults. In what ways could educational programs and literature be improved to better promote their interests, sense of agency, and entitlements such as further education and employment? How can theoretical structures and professional policy be enhanced to accommodate a more sociological understanding of the contextual constraints of this particular population?

An example of my international research seminar:

http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/polopoly_fs/1.250071!/file/BrunilaSeminar.pdf