Geographies of Home-based Service Interactions at the Margins of Welfare in Finland and Sweden (2017–2022)

Researcher in charge: Professor Kirsi Juhila

Research group: Kirsi Günther, Christopher Hall, Cecilia Hansen Löfstrand, Suvi Holmberg, Doris Lydahl, Suvi Raitakari, Johanna Ranta, Jenni-Mari Räsänen, Sirpa Saario and Jenna Syrjälä.

Research period and funding: 20172022, Academy of Finland

During recent decades the Western world has witnessed a turn of professional care and control from institutions to communities, and more recently to home-spaces what we term as ‘home turn’.  In Finland and in Sweden, where this study is located in, there is a strong trend towards this newest form of community service provision. The study concentrates on ‘home turn’ at the margins of welfare, namely on the services targeted at adults with complex needs, suffering from poor mental health, substance abuse problems and, occasionally, homelessness. Our special interest is to focus on the turn from a spatial and interactional points of view; how homes and nearby communities as places of service interactions matter. The similarities in the deinstitutionalisation processes, but also the slight difference in the speed of home turn, create a good basis to analyse and compare home-based service interactions in Finland and Sweden.

We set 4 intertwined objectives for the research project: 1) to examine how constructions of place matter in home-based services targeted at people with complex needs at the margins of welfare, 2) to scrutinise how workers and clients orient to place verbally and non-verbally in service interactions, 3) to analyse how tensions between public vs private, support vs surveillance and inclusion vs exclusion are present in service interactions in home-spaces, and 4) to compare similarities and differences of home-based service interactions in different service settings, and both in Finland and Sweden.

The study combines concepts from two research approaches; ethnomethodology and human geography (especially post-asylum geographies and geographies of care in home-spaces). Connecting human geography to ethnomethodology provides tools to make the material world visible, to show how place is very much part of social relations. The data will be gathered in mental health floating support services, in supported housing services and in home-based substance abuse services. The data will contain detailed field notes based on mobile (‘shadowing’) ethnography and recordings on interactions between workers and clients during the course of home visits. The study produces knowledge that has a clear societal relevance: what kinds of impacts the policy shift leading to physical changes of service places (from institutions and offices to homes) has on micro level service interactions and eventually on the everyday lives of service users.


Günther Kirsi & Ranta Johanna (2019) Mielenterveys- ja päihdekuntoutujan palvelusiirtymät. Asumisyksikön työntekijöiden neuvottelut asiakkaiden muuttuvista palvelutarpeista [Service transitions of people with mental health and substance use problems: housing support workers negotiating clients’ changing service needs]. In Aini Pehkonen, Taru Kekoni & Katja Kuusisto (eds.) Oikeus päihdehuoltoon [Right for substance use services]. Tampere: Vastapaino, 219–252. 

Haahtela Riikka & Juhila Kirsi (2016) Arjen valinnat ja neuvot kotikuntoutuksen kohtaamisissa [Everyday Choices and Advice-giving in the Encounters of Home Rehabilitation]. In Kirsi Juhila & Teppo Kröger (eds.) Siirtymät ja valinnat asumispoluilla [Transitions and Choices in Housing Pathways]. Jyväskylä: SoPhi, 192214.

Juhila Kirsi (2018) Aika, paikka ja sosiaalityö [Time, place and social work]. Tampere: Vastapaino.

Juhila Kirsi & Hall Christopher & Raitakari Suvi (2016) Interaction During Mental Health Floating Support Home Visits: Managing Host-Guest and Professional-Client Identities in Home-spaces. Social and Cultural Geography 17(1), 101–119.

Juhila Kirsi & Ranta Johanna & Raitakari Suvi & Banks Sarah (2020) Relational autonomy and service choices in social worker-client conversations in an outpatient clinic for people using drugs. British Journal of Social Work. Published online 26 February 2020. DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcaa011

Kuusisto Katja & Ranta Johanna (2020) Psykososiaalisen päihdetyön asema Suomessa 1900-luvulta tähän päivään [The position of psychosocial work in Finland from the 20th century to the present]. In Johanna Moilanen, Johanna Annola & Mirja Satka (eds.) Sosiaalityön käänteet. Jyväskylä: SoPhi, 112140.

Lydahl Doris & Hansen Löfstrand Cecilia (2020) Doing good: autonomy in the margins of welfare. Sociology of Health & Illness. Published online 01 March 2020. DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.13069

Lydahl Doris & Holmberg Suvi & Günther Kirsi & Ranta Johanna (2020) Doing data together: Affective relations and mobile ethnography in home visits. Qualitative Research. First Published May 19. DOI: 10.1177/1468794120917913

Raitakari Suvi (2017) Using Expressions of Past, Present and Future Homelessness Pathways as a Linguistic Resource in Meeting Interaction in a Low-Threshold Outpatient Clinic. Housing, Theory and Society. Published online 21 November 2017.

Raitakari Suvi (2019) Explaining homelessness as a movement using metaphors in European academic writings of homelessness. Housing Studies. Published online 10 November 2019.  DOI: 10.1080/02673037.2019.1680813

Raitakari Suvi & Haahtela Riikka & Juhila Kirsi (2016) Tackling Community Integration in Mental Health Home Visit Integration in Finland. Health and Social Care in the Community 24(5), e5362.

Raitakari Suvi & Holmberg Suvi & Juhila Kirsi & Räsänen Jenni-Mari (2018) Constructing the Elements of the “Recovery in” Model through Positive Assessments during Mental Health Home Visits. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Published online 09 July 2018.

Ranta Johanna (2019) Huumehoitoa koskevat neuvot ja valinnat matalan kynnyksen palvelun asiakkaiden ja työntekijöiden vuorovaikutuksessa [Advices and choices regarding drug addiction treatment in low-threshold service client-worker interaction]. In Aini Pehkonen, Taru Kekoni & Katja Kuusisto (eds.) Oikeus päihdehuoltoon [Right for substance use services]. Tampere: Vastapaino, 253–287.

Ranta Johanna (2020) Reducing harms through interactions: Workers orienting to unpredictable frames in a low-threshold project for people injecting drugs. International Journal of Drug Policy 82. Published online 27 June. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.102828

Ranta Johanna (2020) Suhteellinen toimijuus huumeita käyttävien matalan kynnyksen palveluissa: Tutkimus institutionaalisesta vuorovaikutuksesta [Relational agency in low-threshold services for people using drugs: A study of institutional interaction]. Tampere University Dissertations 279. Tampere: Tampere University.

Ranta Johanna & Juhila Kirsi (2020) Constructing a sense of home in floating support for people using drugs. Qualitative Social Work 19(4), 685–700. Published online 02 May 2019. DOI: 10.1177/1473325019847262

Ranta Johanna & Räsänen Jenni-Mari & Günther Kirsi (eds.) (2018) Sosiaalityön kodit ja kodit sosiaalityössä [Social Work’s Homes and Homes in Social Work]. Tutkiva sosiaalityö 2018 [Researching Social Work 2018]. Helsinki: Talentia and The Finnish Society of Social Work Research.

Ranta Johanna & Räsänen Jenni-Mari & Günther Kirsi & Juhila Kirsi (2018) Lukijalle: Moniulotteinen koti sosiaalityön tutkimuksessa ja käytännöissä [Multidimensional home in social work research and practices]. In Johanna Ranta, Jenni-Mari Räsänen & Kirsi Günther (eds.) Sosiaalityön kodit ja kodit sosiaalityössä [Social Work’s Homes and Homes in Social Work]. Tutkiva sosiaalityö 2018 [Researching Social Work 2018]. Helsinki: Talentia and The Finnish Society of Social Work Research, 36.

Räsänen Jenni-Mari (2019) Toimintakyvyn arviointimenetelmien käytön ja arkityön tasapainottelua kotiin vietävissä palveluissa [Balancing between the Use of Assessment Methods of  Functional Capacity and Everyday Work in Home-based Services]. Janus 27(2), 111126.