FSD3204 Power Structures of Finnish Society 2011

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  • Ruostetsaari, Ilkka (University of Tampere. Faculty of Management)


achievement, career development, decision making, elected officials, elite, mass media, organizations, parents, political power, social conflict, social networks, social origin, social success

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In this power structure survey, the Finnish power elite is under observation. The respondents represented the following sectors of society: politics, administration, business life, organisations, mass media, science and culture. The study focused on institutional leadership positions and roles in the various sectors, not on the persons as such. There were approximately 1,400 elite positions in Finland in 2011. The themes of the survey included, among others, career, internationalisation, interaction, power and influence, and childhood home.

In view of the respondents' careers, they were queried the field of their main occupation as well as possible posts or offices in other fields. The study also charted the respondents' positions of trust in e.g. the Parliament, the State's committees, boards of corporations, and different types of organisations. The respondents were asked to choose the most important factors that had had a positive impact on their career development (e.g. work experience, diligence, suitable political views and party preference, education, family relations, public presentation skills) as well as to evaluate what sort of effect their childhood home had had on their career choice and whether gender had affected their career development.

Interaction was examined by presenting the respondents with a list of possible contact partners and asking them about the frequency and nature of the contacts. The listed contact partners included e.g. the President, the Prime Minister's office, political parties, ministries, courts and the police, universities, the Church, municipalities, and the Defence Forces. The respondents were also asked to estimate how often they appeared in a variety of mass media outlets and to what extent they kept in touch with old acquaintances they had met, for instance, during studies or their military service. Next, the respondents were asked whether they had common interests with decision-makers from a variety of fields. Internationalisation was charted by enquiring whether the respondents had studied or worked abroad and whether they had personal contacts with different types of foreign actors.

With regard to power and influence, the modes of contact that the respondents deemed the most important for their organisation were charted (e.g. unofficial personal meetings, telephone calls, personal letters, e-mails, organisations' official letters, mass media). Next, the respondents were asked to assess the influence and power of various bodies (e.g. the Parliament, representatives of cultural life, the media, labour market organisations, the EU). The study also surveyed their opinions on the importance of a variety of principles in decision-making regarding their own field (e.g. preparation of decisions is public, the social impact of decisions is taken into consideration, representatives of enterprises participate in decision-making, citizens can influence decisions). In addition, the respondents' views on the intensity of antagonism between various groups in Finland were examined (e.g. the wealthy/the impoverished, politicians/citizens, employers/employees). The respondents were also presented with a set of statements regarding social issues such as the functionality of democracy in Finland, immigration, income disparity, privatisation of public services, and NATO membership. Finally, the respondents' family backgrounds were charted with regard to language spoken in childhood home as well as parents' educational background, their economic activity and occupational status, their possible positions of trust in different organs and institutions, and the respondents' assessment of their parents' political party preference in the respondents' youth.

Background variables included e.g. gender, year of birth (categorised), province of residence, education, self-perceived social class, gross income, and the political party the respondent would vote for if the parliamentary elections were held at the time of the survey.

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