Shades of Finnishness: challenging the construct of Finnish national identity with the aim of designing more inclusive policies

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Date
2022
Department
Major/Subject
Mcode
Degree programme
Master's Programme in Collaborative and Industrial Design
Language
en
Pages
69
Series
Abstract
Because of megatrends, such as globalization and migration flows, the way people relate to their national identities is becoming more diverse. This results in “wicked problems” for policymaking. Design approach and methods help navigate such complex topics in the public sector by challenging present assumptions and leveraging empathy towards citizens. This thesis explores emerging national identities in Finland, and compares it to the one constructed by the state. The qualitative approach results in findings from in-depth interviews with the citizens, as well as document review. Three elements of national identity were explored by analysing interview data and Finnish Acts: citizenship, conscription and language. Five overarching themes emerged from the interview data analysis: (1) National identity as an ambiguous and dynamic feeling, (2) the multiplicity of national identities, (3) top-down construction of the national identity, when it’s highly influenced by the state’s decisions, (4) collective aspects of the national identity, and (5) national identity is affecting the way people interact with Finnish society. As a tangible outcome of this thesis, I created 6 persona-based illustrated stories, which can be used independently in the processes of policymaking. The stories showcase different expression of national identity: Rooted Finnishness, Adopted Finnishness, Contractual Finnishness, Shaped Finnishness, Chosen Finnishness and Professional Finnishness. The main insights of the study talk about how national identities in Finland are becoming more fluid and unique, so it’s difficult to apply rigid, top-down approaches. Moreover, people face exclusion which can discourage them from citizen participation, so there is a need to design more inclusive policies.
Description
Supervisor
Solsona Caba, Núria
Thesis advisor
Solsona Caba, Núria
Keywords
national identity, design for policy, personas, illustrated stories, thematic analysis, Finnish policies, citizen participation
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