Local Cultural and Sport Services: Access and Participation (in cooperation with the Unit of Social Sciences of Sport)

Project leaders: Anita Kangas (Unit of Cultural Policy) and Hannu Itkonen (Unit of Social Sciences of Sport)

Researchers: Sakarias Sokka and Mika Kontio

The Foundation for Municipal Development


The basic idea in organizing municipal cultural and sport services in Finland has been to secure citizens’ possibilities to spend their free-time in a meaningful way. According to previous studies, the range of institutionalized cultural and sport services that the Finnish municipalities have traditionally offered has proven important for the health and well-being of the individuals as well as for the cohesion of larger communities. According to the Nordic tradition of public services, investments in social equality help to construct and maintain social cohesion.

From the perspective of sustainable development, the former and current economic down-turns and crisis of  public economies, together with the re-evaluation processes of the organizational structures of the local level public administration, cause social transformations which interweave cultural, ecological and economic aspects. All this may produce inequalities in peoples’ possibilities to spend free-time at the same time as it is becoming ever more important in their lives. Psychological, social and economic factors have effect on the choices that people make; gender, education, income, marital status, age and the “inherited“ practices explain much of any given person’s free-time activities.

This project focuses on citizens’ access and participation to cultural and sport services in municipal (local) level.  We ask what kind of culture and sport related hobbies people have, how much they use the local cultural and sport services, and do the offered services respond to their needs. We also analyze how people are enabled to participate in policy decisions that affect the quality of their cultural activities (cultural democracy).

The research data consist of interviews (n=167) that we carried out in a small / medium-size Finnish town, and online survey questionnaires (n=675). The gathered data is also reflected upon statistical information that is based on earlier surveys.

  • Projektin kuvaus suomeksi: KUPLI