INVENT: European Inventory of Societal Values of Culture as a Basis for Inclusive Cultural Policies in the Globalizing World

Duration: 2/2020–7/2023, Funding: This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870691

Main coordinator: Professor Susanne Janssen (Erasmus University Rotterdam); the consortium includes research teams from nine European countries: Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland and the UK

Research team in Finland (Tampere University): Semi Purhonen (PI), Riie Heikkilä (senior researcher), Ossi Sirkka (junior researcher), Sara Sivonen (junior researcher)


The INVENT consortium sets out to identify, through research, the cultural and social preconditions required for the strategic goals of the New EU Agenda for Culture to be realized. The New EU Agenda for Culture represents an exceptionally significant step forward in European cultural policy. However, the EU’s new focus on the sphere of culture is accompanied by theoretical and methodological challenges. The changes which Europe and the world have undergone over the last thirty years are so drastic that they require a different approach to creating cultural policy.

INVENT aims to contribute to a “social turn” in cultural policies, that takes into account how the way of life and cultural participation of European citizens has been influenced by the mega-trends of globalization, European integration and the migrations that accompany them, the digital revolution, and rising social inequalities. The bottom-up approach of the project will provide insight into multiple, often mutually contradictory, concepts of culture and understandings of societal values of culture among various social (demographic, socio-economic, ethnic, religious…) groups in European societies. At the same time it will offer the foundation for new methodologies for capturing the societal value of culture. This is the overall goal of the project, aimed at supporting the values of culture vital for the preservation and improvement of the European project, by means of striving to promote identity and belonging, inclusiveness, tolerance, and social cohesion.

Homepage: INVENT


DYNAMICS: The Dynamics of Cultural Stratification: How Cultural Classifications, Hierarchies and Tastes Change

Duration: 2017–2021, Funding: Academy of Finland (major research project)

Research team: Semi Purhonen (PI), Taru Lindblom (post-doc), Jarmo Kallunki (PhD candidate), Riie Heikkilä (post-doc, part-time), Tina Lauronen (PhD candidate), Ossi Sirkka (RA/project researcher), Sara Sivonen (project researcher)


How do cultural classifications, hierarchies and tastes change and evolve? Have the old status-based distinctions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ dwindled and led us into a more de-hierarchized, democratized and tolerant culture? This project, carried out at Tampere University, develops a new theory of the dynamics of cultural stratification and includes three empirical parts. The first part is a study of newspaper coverage of culture/arts in six European countries between 1960 and 2010. The second part examines the changes in the social organization of lifestyles and tastes in Finland over the last ten years. The third part focuses on the fastest-paced dynamics of cultural stratification by analyzing social media data. By providing general understanding and empirical detail about the recent changes in cultural stratification, the project will be innovative and of high impact in relation to previous academic studies and public debates on cultural inequalities.

Homepage: DYNAMICS


DISFIN: Understanding Cultural Disengagement in Contemporary Finland

Duration: 2017–2021, Funding: Finnish Cultural Foundation, City of Helsinki Urban Facts and the Academy of Finland (postdoctoral researcher’s project)

PI: Riie Heikkilä


The DISFIN project aimed at understanding the reasons behind the common yet not often systematically explored lack of cultural activities. The empirical data collected for the project included both focus groups (n=9) and individual interviews (n=40) which have been archived at the Finnish Social Science Data Archive (FSD). The DISFIN project has produced two journal articles (see Publications), and there is a book in progress for Palgrave.


CUDIGE: Cultural Distinctions, Generations and Change: A Comparative Study of Five European Countries, 1960–2010

Duration: 2013–2018 (2013–2014 at the University of Helsinki and 2014–2018 at Tampere University), Funding: Academy of Finland, Kone Foundation and the University of Helsinki research grants (major project)

Research team: Semi Purhonen (PI), Riie Heikkilä (post-doc), Tina Lauronen (PhD candidate), Jukka Gronow (senior fellow); international partners of the team Dr. Irmak Karademir Hazir (Oxford Brookes University, UK), Professor Carlos J. Fernández Rodríguez (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain); plus several RAs at the Universities of Helsinki and Tampere.


This project examined changes in classifications and valuations of culture and the arts in Europe over the last half-century (1960–2010). The project involved a multi-method, longitudinal and cross-national study of cultural hierarchies from the perspective of social change. The core of the project was a comprehensive study of newspaper coverage of culture/the arts, resulting into a data set of more than 13,000 newspaper articles. The newspaper data were sampled from the cultural sections of the leading national daily newspapers: Helsingin Sanomat in Finland, Le Monde in France, ABC and El País in Spain, Dagens Nyheter in Sweden, Milliyet in Turkey and The Guardian in the UK. These data were examined by means of both qualitative and quantitative content analysis. The results show how classifications of culture have changed toward increased cultural heterogeneity through the rise and legitimization of popular culture and the decline and popularization of the traditional highbrow arts.

Homepage: CUDIGE


Nordic Democracy of Taste? Social Differentiation of Cultural Practices in Finland from a Comparative Perspective

Duration: 2011–2013 (at the University of Helsinki), Funding: Academy of Finland (postdoctoral researcher’s project). PI: Semi Purhonen.


This research contributed to the sociological tradition on cultural consumption and taste differences by exploring Finland from a comparative perspective, focusing especially on the cross-national work between Finland and the UK. In the research, unique comparable data sets recently collected in Finland and Britain by previous research projects were used (both nationally representative survey data and qualitative interviews). At the most general level, the conclusion is that even though Finland is characterized by certain national pecularities (e.g. that “highbrow” cultural orientation is so strongly feminized), the two countries are after all rather similar with respect the way cultural taste and lifestyles are organized (the two most important structuring dimensions being the total volume of capital on the one hand and age on the other hand).

Homepage: Suomalainen maku (“The Finnish Taste”)


CCSD: Cultural Capital and Social Differentiation in Contemporary Finland: An International Comparison

Duration: 2005–2009 (at the University of Helsinki), Funding: University of Helsinki research grants and the Academy of Finland (major research project).

Research team: Keijo Rahkonen (PI), Semi Purhonen (post-doc), Riie Heikkilä (PhD candidate), Nina Kahma (PhD candidate), Tuomo Laihiala (project researcher), Jukka Gronow (senior fellow).


The aim of the project is to produce reliable and internationally comparable information about cultural capital, cultural practices and tastes in Finland. In applying the later critical developments of the Bourdieusian approach (e.g., the work by B. Lahire and G. Schulze as well as the discussion of the so-called cultural omnivorousness), the main purpose of this research is to develop a concept and understanding of cultural capital in Finland, to find out how it is distributed and what kind of forms of social differentiation currently exist, and to analyse the structuring factors shaping these differences. The research will be carried out in cooperation with a British research team (project ‘Cultural capital and social exclusion’, see Bennett et al. 2009), which will make possible international comparisons. It will be interesting to see to what extent Finnish society differs from a traditional class society like the UK, and also from the other Nordic welfare states, e.g. Sweden.

Homepage: CCSD