13.12.2016

The Research Centre for Contemporary Culture

The purpose of the Research Centre for Contemporary Culture is to represent and advance multi- and cross-disciplinary work in cultural studies, especially with a view to combine humanities and social science approaches. The Centre's research focus is on today's cultural phenomena. Starting from a broad definition of culture, the research interests at the Centre concern the relationship and interaction between the cultural and the social spheres, issues of everyday life and the meanings and functions of the media and the arts. Sociocultural modernization has affected the status and characteristics of culture and its relations to the social and the economic spheres. As a consequence, identities and meanings in these terms have lost their former contours, and their constructions and changes pose new challenges for empirical research and cultural theory alike.

Empirical research at the Centre has been concerned with the production, distribution, reception and use of cultural products. In particular, research has been targeting the reception and use of literature and audiovisual culture, especially the media culture for/of children and youth. Fandom studies have also been prominent in this area. Another important strands have been narrative and autobiographical studies and digital culture studies. Methodologically, discourse analysis, narrative approaches, the sociology of culture, and online methods have been strong in the Centre’s work.

Postgraduate studies

The Research Centre runs a research seminar for doctoral students, with established researchers from the Centre and other disciplines also taking part in the sessions. The principle of peer discussion makes the sessions suitable for the discussion of postgraduate and postdoctoral work alike. Other kinds or postgraduate work, including thematic seminars and web-based resources, have also been used. Apart from this, the Research Centre/Discipline has been coordinating the Department’s joint English-language doctoral seminar. Participation in research projects, which is the core of the centre's work, has also provided possibilities for postgraduate education and postdoctoral work.

Background

The Research Centre was started as a project in 1986. In 2000 it acquired its present status, joining the Department of Art and Culture Studies. Since then, it has also harboured the dispipline of Contemporary Cultural Studies, with postgraduate education added to its tasks and Katarina Eskola as its first professor. After her retirement, Erkki Vainikkala followed her in 2008. From the beginning of 2012 onwards, the chair is held by Raine Koskimaa. Urpo Kovala holds the position of senior researcher. In addition, a number of research projects have attached researchers to the Centre.

The Summer Schools of Cultural Studies were started in 1994 on a yearly basis as a joint effort of the Finnish Network of Cultural Studies and the Research Centre. The location with one exception has been the University of Jyväskylä. Today, the Summer Schools are an activity of the Society of Cultural Studies in Finland, with continued participation of the Research Centre.

The Centre runs the publication series "Nykykulttuuri" (Contemporary Culture), started in 1986 and with more than a hundred titles published to date.  The language of the publications is Finnish or English. The editorial board includes people from various universities and different disciplines related to the study of culture. Manuscripts are solicited and books distributed nation-wide and internationally.

The Finnish Network of Cultural Studies was started (1984) and organized at the Research Centre. In 2008 the Network was transformed into the Society for Cultural Studies in Finland, severing formal ties with the Centre. At present, the vice-chair and the secretary of the Society are located at the Centre.

The journal "Kulttuurintutkimus" (Cultural Studies), the only journal of its kind in Finland, was launched at the Research Centre in 1984. It was transferred to the Society of Cultural Studies in Finland in 2008, with researchers at the Centre still having a strong practical input in its work.

Research Projects