Dimensions of our research
The ownership and production of information
The research group is led by Professor Inga Jasiskaja-Lahti from the University of Helsinki.
Our research focuses on the collaborative production of information. Our special areas of interest include the collective psychological and epistemic ownership of information, the development of a sense of ownership as a communal event, and its use from the perspective of a community’s needs. Our research efforts focus on a variety of questions, such as: How is the assessment of the reliability of information influenced by who is seen as the producer of the information and whose interests the information is considered to serve? In which ways do information and its collective production serve as sources of identity? Who is considered to have the right to produce and use information pertaining to a specific community? How can the collective ownership of information be an instrument for significant societal change, for example in minority groups? These questions are also strongly linked to issues concerning the rights of national minorities and immigrants. For example, there have been debates in Finland on the wishes of ethnic minorities to personally define the production and use of information that concerns them, on their own terms. Our research focuses on the assessment of a collective sense of ownership in a Finnish context from the perspectives of the general populace as well as immigrants.
The rights of minorities and the risks affecting them
The research group is led by Professor Maarit Koponen from the University of Eastern Finland and Senior Researcher Antti Kivijärvi from the Finnish Youth Research Society.
We study how language minorities in Finland access, use and produce multilingual information. The opportunities to access understandable information and communicate with the other members of one’s society serve as the cornerstones for the creation of epistemic capacity and social participation. Our first research task is to assess how linguistic minorities, especially speakers of Ukrainian and Russian, use digital media and, for example, machine translation as tools for receiving information and interaction. Our second research task is to examine the roles of multilingualism, translation and machine translation as part of the work of journalists. Our research will help create an overall picture of the roles that information access and translation algorithms play in supporting the everyday lives of linguistic minorities.
Risks and security in social media
The research group is led by Assistant Professor Mikko Kivelä from Aalto University and Academy Research Fellow Tuomas Ylä-Anttila from the University of Helsinki.
We analyse the structures of communication flows between citizens, political groups and institutions and seek to identify the moments, issues and logic that create epistemic risks, such as heightened polarisation and disinformation campaigns. While these issues may be related to political identities and various tensions, they can be intensified by the manipulative practices of algorithms and external actors. We focus on how a polarised communication environment can limit the epistemic capacities of individuals, hinder the dissemination of facts and weaken society’s resilience against future challenges. We use network analysis methods to study three epistemic risks: hybrid propaganda, intensified polarisation and the questioning of the epistemic authority of experts. Together with political actors and journalists, we are developing new methodological tools that can be used to identify and combat epistemic risks.
Institutions and trust
The research group is led by University Lecturer Katja Lehtisaari from Tampere University and Professor Mervi Pantti from the University of Helsinki.
We study how the change in our communications environment has impacted peoples’ trust and belief in the authority of media actors. We also study how society’s epistemic capacity and trust in journalistic media can be supported. With the help of survey and interview materials, we will examine the views of media professionals on their responsibility to support society’s epistemic capacity and the future threats to journalism. Our research, which is based on interviews as well as textual and network analyses, focuses on the distrust that different population groups and “counter-experts” feel towards traditional media outlets. We produce new information on the causes behind the growing mistrust revealed by previous research and the ways in which counter-experts construct their own informational authority. Together with media actors, we examine and develop journalistic practices and innovations. We assess the development of new professional norms to support the trust between journalism and its various audiences. Our key research topics, which we are studying in close collaboration with our partners, include the role of public service media in a changing communications environment (Yle), the reforming of journalistic guidelines (CMM), the harassment faced by journalists (JOKES), promotion of diversity in journalistic contents (Vikes) and measurements of the diversity of news sources (Yle).
Informational rights and politics
The research group is led by Professor Risto Kunelius and University Researcher Riku Neuvonen from the University of Helsinki.
We examine the development of epistemic capacity in social discourse-related legislation, policy programmes and policy networks, as well as in the field of social theory. We produce critical analyses of how the policy and legislative debates concerning information rights relate to developments in the history of ideas and how these debates respond to the challenges brought on by new circumstances (international engagement, new types of actors). We maintain a situational overview of the types of critical discussions that are taking place in different countries and academic traditions. We empirically study the perceptions of Finnish policy network actors in connection with the legislative policies, processes and intense public debates that are vital for our epistemic capacity and rights. In addition, we use case studies based on interviews and the analysis of data from public debates to examine how the application of international political debate and regulations take place in Finnish society.