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E-thesis site contains doctoral dissertations and other publications from the University of Helsinki. All of these full-text publications are freely accessible via the Internet. This is RSS 2.0 feed for forthcoming dissertations Faculty of Social Sciences

Published: Wed, 13 Dec 17 03:00:01 +0200

Copyright: Copyright University of Helsinki

16.12. Maria Heiskanen: Problem gamblers and money: Unbalanced budgets and financial recovery

The purpose of this study is to discuss problem gambling as a financial issue, to study the everyday life (unbalanced) budgets and financial matters of problem gamblers, and to discover their financial recovery processes, with or without the support from state public welfare services. In practice, the results of this study aim to support the development of prevention of problem gambling and services (especially financial support) for people who have experienced problems with their gambling. Using three data sets, this research asks: what gambler consumer clusters can be identified in Finland? How do problem gamblers experience financial problems as being secondary to gambling? How do they perceive the assistance available in deteriorating financial situations, partly related to their socio-economic positions? What meanings do Finnish social services directors gice to the public (financial) support available for problem gamblers? First, the main data set comprises 17 thematic interviews with individuals who have experienced problematic gambling. The second data set includes 11 email and phone interviews with different-level social services directors in the most populous cities in Finland, while the third data set is a population survey entitled “Finnish Gambling 2011”.

First, three problematic issues connected to money during different phases of problem gambling are identified: needing money for gambling, missing money due to gambling and potential money to sort out the problems caused by gambling. The everyday life financial affairs and practices described by the gamblers revealed the episodic nature of problem gambling: disposable money means that gambling activities are organized temporally.

Second, this thesis shows that gamblers in general are heterogeneous consumers. Problem gambling is most common among gamblers who play many different games. Problem gamblers come from different socio-economic backgrounds, which results in variations in the nature of the financial problems in the everyday life of the gamblers and their households. Also, their paths to financial recovery vary, especially regarding public financial assistance and social services in general, as problem gamblers have different subjective “distances” from public services.

Third, problem gamblers themselves may conceptualize their problems as financial and feel that their concerns are left unaddressed in treatment. Also, measures to recognize problem gambling within social services seem necessary. The social service directors expressed the view that financial support is available for problem gamblers but requires resources, especially for the more controlling measures such as having a social worker manage the client’s finances. Control in general is an important element in supporting problem gamblers financially, as different money-management strategies may influence the gambler’s financial autonomy, but may provide support in managing financially.

Problem gambling is often understood as a mental health issue and treated with individual therapy. This study suggests that the prevention and treatment of problem gambling ought to be set in a broader, financial perspective. Gambling is undertaken with money, and the cycles of everyday life budgets, as well as the different social and economic positions of the gamblers, should be recognized and acknowledged.

16.12. Säde Hormio: Marginal participation, complicity, and agnotology: What climate change can teach us about individual and collective responsibility

The topic of my thesis is individual and collective responsibility for collectively caused systemic harms, with climate change as the case study. Can an individual be responsible for these harms, and if so, how? Furthermore, what does it mean to say that a collective is responsible? A related question, and the second main theme, is how ignorance and knowledge affect our responsibility. My aim is to show that despite the various complexities involved, an individual can have responsibility to address climate change.

I argue that climate change is not a problem just for states and international bodies, but also for individuals. There are three possible sources of moral responsibility for individuals in relation to climate change harms: direct responsibility (individuals qua individuals), shared responsibility as members (individuals qua members of collective agents), and shared responsibility as constituents (individuals qua constituents of unorganised collectives).

Accounts that deny individual responsibility fail to either take our interdependent reality seriously or fail to understand marginal participation (or in the case direct responsibility, fail to appreciate the nature of the climate change phenomenon). Individuals can be complicit in climate change harms, either as members of collective agents (e.g. as citizens of states or employees of a corporation) or as constituents of unorganised collectives (e.g. as consumers or polluters).

Although I focus on individual complicity, I do not deny the obligations of collective agents. However, nation-states, governments, and international bodies are not the only relevant collective agents in climate ethics: other collective agents, such as corporations, matter also and can have obligations concerning making sure that their activities are as carbon-neutral as possible. In addition, those corporations that have engaged in lobbying against climate regulation through creating and disseminating misleading information have acquired themselves additional obligations to mitigate climate change and compensate for the harm they have caused.

Even so, the ethical claims can only be understood by individual members of these collective agents because only they can feel the pull of moral claims. I suggest that we could distinguish between what one must possess in order to be capable of making moral claims (i.e. moral agency conditions), and what it means to have the ability to exhibit such claims through one’s conduct.

Individual direct responsibility is to not to increase the probable risk of serious harm to other people, at least as long as we can do so at a less than significant cost to ourselves. It is limited to relatively wealthy individuals. Offsetting is not a reliable way to meet this duty; we need to look at the emissions from our lifestyle choices (within the available infrastructure).

Shared responsibility qua members of collective agents is the key individual responsibility, and it presses especially on those occupying key positions within key collective agents. Saying that, our shared responsibility qua constituents of unorganised collectives has the potential to be decisive in whether some action is taken or not, either through a set of actions that can signal certain acceptance or support, or as a form of political support from the grass roots.


This dissertation makes methodological and empirical contributions to understanding how we represent and use values that are important in defining ‘us’, and who ‘we’ consider ourselves to be. It also contributes to our understanding of how particular values, which we might typically assume as enhancing societal wellbeing, can be formulated ideologically in the sense that they are discursive representations and tools for elevating ‘our’ identities and subjugating ‘theirs’.

The study material consists of written responses to open questions that were produced by people who are differently positioned in relation to institutionalised norms on “sociability” and/or “sex/gender”: People contacted through a national random sample, people diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and people with transgendered experiences. I therefore also consider how being explicitly marked as psychiatrically, medically and socially ‘abnormal’ might interact with how social values are negotiated in identification and in ideological work.

The perspectives informing this dissertation are interdisciplinary. I draw upon theoretical and methodological approaches to values, identification and ideology in social semiotics and critical discourse studies, critical and societal psychologies, semiotic sociology and cultural studies.

The first of two primary methodological contributions is in developing a framework for analysing social values as constructions that are formulated in dynamic identification processes. I specify analyses of social values firstly in relation to territorialising what ‘we’ consider to be important, desirable or obligatory; secondly in relation to formulating action programmes by positioning contents into relational participant roles; and thirdly in relation to evaluative positioning of oneself and others in relation to those territorialisations and action programmes. The second methodological contribution is in developing a framework for analysing ideologies as both structures and processes, from the perspective of modalities. Modality is amongst the discursive resources that function to connect and divide viewpoints, to build value projects and to build communities of shared values.

My empirical contributions in this dissertation deal with analyses of Finnish equality discourses; how equality is given meaning and used in identification processes. I also examine the extent to which equality as a concept is ideological such that its imbued meanings and uses work to produce and update relations of domination. I interpret four discourses on equality. I suggest that a network of ideological discourses on Finnish equality works to somewhat paradoxically produce and maintain symbolic and material inequalities. Integrating an historical analysis, I argue that this ideology is being constantly updated and maintained in part because of the interrelatedness in the historical path of equality with national projects on temperance, homogeneity, non-conflict and civil unity, the nation and sameness. Particular ways of continually referencing and integrating aspects of these projects into meanings and implementations of equality have been key to maintaining its ideological status. They are also key to understanding how ideological Finnish equality formulations might be transformed.


This study explores why poor African migrants remain in Johannesburg, South Africa’s harsh migration context, to build their lives, and how, in pursuit of a better future, they engage with the various forms of socioeconomic and political constraints that they experience. Popular as a destination for African migrants, South Africa is a country with a very high percentage of asylum seekers, but also a place where they are the targets of violent xenophobia. Yet such migrants are known to live for years in this situation, one which is generally considered socio-economically and politically marginalized and constraining. Their continued presence raises the pertinent sociological query of how and why such large numbers have remained in their host society, continuing to welcome new incoming members, while others have left, been imprisoned or murdered, or died of a range of ailments.

Methodologically, resilience theory - conceptualised as a dynamic process of interaction between the individual and his or her environment – is utilised as an explanatory and descriptive framework to examine the subject of this study. Data for the study were collected through life-story interviews with African migrants who are economically active on the streets of Johannesburg, and document analysis was utilised for triangulation purposes. Data were analysed using narrative analysis.

Empirical observations called attention to the prominence of aspirations for a better life amongst the informal migrants, an observation that is accompanied by several relevant findings: firstly, that the migrants’ resilience in their constraining environment cannot be attributed to itemized factors. Rather, their resilience takes the form of a dynamic and interactive engagement with the South African context. The interactions are orchestrated by their perceptions of opportunities in their home countries and the South African society, and combined with the application of faith and tactics in dealing with identified adverse conditions. Their resilience is presented as enduring but also transient, as it is subject to individuals’ evaluations and negotiations. In that light, the migrants are shown to be active agents but also victims in their harsh context, calling attention to the duality of the informal migrants’ experience in Johannesburg, irrespective of their violent xenophobic environment. Consequently, considerable challenges are posed to the projects of classifying informal migrants as either passive victims or active agents, and listing or identifying specific factors as means to attaining resilience.

Secondly, an observed fallout from the interviewees’ notion of hope – aspiration – is the productive use of ‘waiting time’. The hegemonic control of the interviewees’ time through, for example, official delays or manipulation in the processing of asylum applications, is challenged by the tactical and creative utilization of the period of waiting in which two things stood out: micro-entrepreneurship and development of their social and personal lives but particularly micro-entrepreneurship, as the interviewees focused on achieving a better life through micro businesses. Their engagement in trade and services in a context devoid of institutional support, and under dire personal circumstances, though borne of feelings of ‘no alternatives’, suggests creativity, with potential for growth. Furthermore, my interviewees were also able to make productive social use of the ‘time of waiting’ even as asylum seekers. Living in the city, my interviewees took initiatives to learn new skills, d

12.1. Marjo Uutela: Operaatio Pax

The thesis examines with primary sources, how Finland nullified the military articles of the Paris Peace Treaty and the reference to Germany as a potential aggressor in the FCMA-Treaty in September 1990. This project, called later “Operation Pax”, paralleled the restoration of reunified Germany’s full sovereignty in Finland.

The study is located in the intersection of Cold War political history and international relations. It utilizes new primary source materials from Finland and Germany and theoretical tools from international relations.

The thesis describes first how the Finnish foreign policy leadership interpreted the Paris Peace Treaty during the Cold War years 1962 and 1983. The analysis focuses especially on how the international position of the two German states affected interpreting the Peace Treaty 1987–1990. The main emphasis is on the unilateral move of the Finnish government to reinterpret the military articles of the Peace Treaty in 1990.

Easing of tensions between the superpowers and the German states made it possible for President Mauno Koivisto to allow importing a German civilian plane to Finland in 1987 without consulting the Soviet Union and Great Britain, even though acquiring aircraft from Germany was prohibited in the Peace Treaty. Because the decision was made unilateral, it meant differing from usual foreign policy practices and is thus seen as a turning point in the thesis, although importing civilian aircraft was not in itself of great significance.

The study concludes that ”Operation Pax” was one of the most important Finnish cases of interpreting the Peace Treaty. Yet, nullifying military articles in 1990 did not change Finland’s international orientation or political goals. Finland’s neutrality policy remained intact. “Operation Pax” was an act of sovereignty, but the leading motive behind it was military-political. In order to acquire weaponry from Germany, the Finnish Ministry of Defence had suggested in November 1989 that the military articles could undergo changes. In June 1990 the Ministry for Foreign Affairs justified in its memorandum to Koivisto the importance of the plan with the interest that the Finnish Defence Forces had in German and Japanese weapons systems.