Doctoral Dissertation

4.5.2019 FM Ilona Tanskanen (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, applied linguistics / Centre for Applied Language Studies)


4.5.2019 12:00 — 15:00

Location: Seminaarinmaki , S212
FM Ilona Tanskanen defends her doctoral dissertation in applied linguistics (Centre for Applied Language Studies) "Ajan henki lain kirjaimessa. Suomalaisten lastensuojelulakien ja -asetusten ideologiat".

Opponent senior lecturer, docent Aino Kääriäinen (University of Helsinki) and Custos senior researcher Mia Halonen (University of Jyväskylä, Centre for Applied Language Studies). The doctoral dissertation is held in Finnish.


The Spirit of Time in the Letter of the Law. The Ideologies of Finnish Child Welfare Legislation analyses what kinds of ideologies are construed in child welfare legislation and how. It is based on a critical discourse analysis in the fields the work is situated in: language studies and social sciences. The results are applicable in the drafting and interpretation of language for professional use.

In the First Child Welfare Act and Decree (1936), ideology is construed as an educational ideology in which the authorities are guided in, and largely required to take particular institutional and educational measures for child welfare when specified conditions are met. Children, young people, parents, guardians, educators and child welfare actors are presented as targets for the authorities.

In the second Child Welfare Act and Decree (1983), the role of social governance was democratized by reducing the ways that asymmetric power was expressed. This construes a service ideology. Desired goals were given more weight than those that should be avoided. Child welfare is presented as service, supporting growth with institutional measures such as monitoring.

In the third Child Welfare Act (2007) child welfare is highlighted as a customer relationship, and the child, young person, parent, guardian and those doing care work are presented as customers. The customer relationship is also formed in a way that regulates child welfare processes in more detail by controlling the interaction between the child welfare operator, child welfare professionals and the client. One of the key elements in presenting the concept of customer ideology is putting more emphasis on cooperation. The reader of the text is also framed as a partner by, for example, including more reading instructions and metatext than took place in the earlier Child Welfare Acts.

The ideologies of Finnish child welfare acts are linked to the socio-historical context of each legislative reform. They show the development of Finnish society from an agrarian to a service society and a post-expansive welfare society.