26 August 2010

Sini Perho

The research project analyses a local racist youth culture from the point of view of its representatives, young boys and girls aged from 13 to 19. The studied youth culture exists in a mid-sized city of Joensuu in the eastern Finland which has in the 1990s got a reputation linked with racist violent skinheads. The subculture or at least its surroundings are still active. The project examines a youth culture which is publicly labelled as a problematic one. This labelling is done both from the individual point of view by stigmatising these young ones as problem youth or ?the junior league of the skinheads' as well as from the collective point of view by seeing the harms this kind of action causes, e.g. for the general atmosphere in and the reputation of the city. Thus, the project handles the question of crime prevention from the perspectives presented within a youth cultural collective that among other things, shows interest in e.g. violent and/or racist crimes. Racism, e.g. in the form of verbal insulting, is against the Finnish law as well as is violence in the name of racism. In addition, the project's data is gathered within an antiracist action research project Exit and this links the findings of the project to have practical relevance e.g. for the youth work and crime prevention among racist young people.

The project concentrates on the young ones who in their youth cultural groupings oppose the cultural diversity and multiculturalisation process of their neighbourhood, city and country. Thus, the informants are mainly not skinheads nor members of other subcultural groupings but young people who define themselves racists. The project is a sociological study which is strongly linked to the traditions of cultural studies. The project approaches racism from a constructionist point of view and sees it as a phenomenon attached to certain time and locality as well as being able to have individual characteristics The research project aims at studying the reality and its interpretations both from the point of view of the culture as a collective as well as from its individual participants. This view opens up both the dimension of togetherness of this youth culture as well as of individuals' separateness in relation to this togetherness. What is the youth cultural ethos presented in this collective? What is the subcultural capital valued in this youth culture? How does the individuality and separateness present itself within this culture?


The project employs a variety of methods in its approach on racist youth culture. The study has been conducted in two communal youth clubs in two ?multiculturally' different areas in the city of Joensuu. In the first one of these areas, there are hardly any immigrants living while almost all the people with immigrant background live in the other area. In this ?more' multicultural area the interaction between the young ones of Finnish and immigrant background has not been always peaceful. In both youth clubs, the general atmosphere among their young users is against multiculturalism and the racist youth culture presents itself popular.


The main data of the project consists of thematic group interviews (3 interviews with altogether 14 young ones) and biographical individual and pair interviews (17 interviews with altogether 19 young ones) conducted in 2000-2001. The researcher has interviewed most of the young people twice, in group and individually. In addition to the interviews, the project employs participatory observation material concerning a wider collective frequenting these two youth clubs. This participatory observation material has been gathered during 1998-2001 and is strongly linked with an antiracist action research project called Exit. The project aimed at raising the interaction between young ones with Finnish and immigrant backgrounds and reducing racism among young people in Joensuu. The project's central actors, in addition to young people, were youth workers and youth researchers. The actions of the project included for instance varying kinds of youth camps in the countryside (mainly aimed for youth with immigrant background and with Finnish background) and theme evenings in the youth clubs organised often jointly by the school and youth club, work with individual racist young people (including aspects of social work) by discussing, looking for new approaches into life in general (education, accomodation, job) and in relation to racist views in particular. The researcher has joined these activities in the roles of both youth researcher and youth worker during the period of three years.

Status:    Finished
Country:  Finland
Contact: sini.perho@nuorisotutkimus.fi

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