Addressing Crises and Changes with a Multidisciplinary Research Approach

Today, European democracies are seriously challenged by diverse crises. The most acute of these are the tense world political situation, economic sanctions, increased inequality, environmental problems, rise of nationalism as well as migration and the populist reactions triggered by it. The University of Jyväskylä Multidisciplinary Research on Crises and Changes in Society addresses these challenges by means of research.

The special characteristics of the research field include long-term orientation, diverse international comparisons, semantic analysis as well as strong multidisciplinary theoretic and methodological know-how. The research approach is comparative and interdisciplinary: The present is proportioned with historical progressions and the future.

Crises are complex and multidimensional

The general starting point of the research is the notion of the complexity and multidimensionality of crises and their formation, both socially and through different manners of speaking. Crises seldom have one specific reason; in most cases they are the sum of several factors. Also, crises are always multidimensional and intricate. For example, economic crises are often also political, social and cultural crises. Respectively, political crises easily escalate into military crises which, consequently, cause humanitarian crises.

Crises include semantic and power struggles

Although crises are concrete events and phenomena, they will not become ”crises” until they are so named and conceptualised. A characteristic of the University of Jyväskylä crisis research is the research of the semantic struggles and legitimation aims regarding ”crises”: When and why are events recognised as crises? Who defines these phenomena as crises? Who decides what should be done in a crisis situation? Furthermore, the research field aims to study how crises are discussed and how this produces crisis awareness, which has both political, economic, social and cultural impacts.

Further information:

Mika Ojakangas

Jari Ojala