FSD2932 Historical Consciousness in Finland 2009: Survey

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  • Torsti, Pilvi (University of Helsinki. Department of Social Science History)
  • Laaksonen, Seppo (University of Helsinki. Department of Social Research)
  • van den Berg, Marko (University of Helsinki. Normal Lyceum of Helsinki)
  • Wass, Hanna (University of Helsinki. Department of Economics and Political Studies)
  • Löfström, Jan (University of Helsinki. Department of Teacher Education)
  • Ouakrim-Soivio, Najat (University of Helsinki. Normal Lyceum of Helsinki)


civil war, cultural history, history, knowledge (awareness), political history, progress, world war


The study charted Finnish notions of and views on the past, historical consciousness, historical identity, and knowledge about history. Other topics included history of everyday life, and turning points and notable people in the history of Finland.

First questions surveyed the significance of history in the lives of the respondents, history-related activities done in the previous 12 months (reading historical novels, talking to relatives about events of the past etc.), observance of Finland's Independence Day, trust in different sources on matters related to history and the past, and interest in different areas of history (own family history, European history etc.) and history in general.

Next set of questions studied views on progress and the factors affecting it. The respondents were asked how they viewed the nature of historical progress, how much they thought different things and phenomena had affected the lives of people in the world (scientific progress, literature and art, wars etc.), and how much those things would affect the lives of people in the world in the following 40 years. Further questions charted opinions on the effects of various institutions and phenomena on the development of Finland's future in the following 40 years (e.g. political parties, protection of the environment, regional disparity in Finland). The respondents were asked whether they agreed with a number of statements about Finland's past and future (e.g. "Finns have been hard-working and industrious throughout history").

One theme pertained to the significance of history for the respondents' own generation. Questions charted the importance of different goals, values and behaviour to the respondents (e.g. the environment, economic wealth, world peace, helping the needy) as well as views on the most important events and people in the history of Finland.

Views on historical events were studied by asking to what extent the respondents agreed with various statements about the 1918 war in Finland (Civil War), about the Winter War, Continuation War and Lapland War, and about the decades after the World War II.

Finally, opinions on the Finland and the world of today were charted by presenting the respondents several statements relating to Finland's recent past and the contemporary world, and by asking the extent to which numerous Finnish phenomena and characteristics affected the perceptions of Finland in other countries (e.g. Finnish design, welfare state, low corruption).

Background variables included, among others, the respondent's year of birth, gender, R's and parents' education level, type of neighbourhood, economic activity, employer type, self-perceived social class, completion of military service, party choice in the previous parliamentary elections, and membership of a religious community as well as number of persons in the household, number of books in the household, and gross monthly income of the household.

Study description in machine readable DDI-C 2.5 format

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