Everyday Activism in Different Socio-Political Context: Cases of Estonia and Finland

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Airi-Alina ALLASTE, Tallinn University, Estonia
Kari SAARI, University of Kuopio, Finland
Young people today are engaging in politicised activities and are more attuned to the concerns of their own generation, as opposed to issues more relevant to their parents. Youth socio-political activism takes less overt and more individualised approach and is partly perceived to have transitioned into spheres of everyday activity. Participation can take place in diversified ways and mean different things in different temporal and spatial contexts.

This paper focuses on young people’s social media practices which could be defined as everyday activism in two countries, Estonia and Finland. The central research problem is the meaning that young people attribute to their own internet-related participation as well as the potential to more demanding activism in two different contexts.

Empirical part of the paper is based mostly on material collected in the framework of the large-scale European project MYPLACE. An in-depth micro-level analysis is based mostly on interviews (60+59) with young people from Estonia and Finland, contextualization is based on survey data that includes all MYPLACE partners (14 countries), additionally data from internet based material on Facebook is used for analyses.

According to MYPLACE survey there is contrast between Eastern and Western European countries both in conventional participation and intentional grassroots activism. While in Finland 73% of young people belong to some organization, in Estonia the corresponding percentage in 58%.  A difference in participation is lower regarding online activism, where Estonia was roughly on the same level with Western Europe. However, question remains if liking, sharing and commenting political topics and signing petitions is something that can be seen as ‘gateway activism’, which will lead new generations of people towards participation and here the historical and political background may have crucial importance.