Member Education in Finnish Parliamentary Parties - extent, aims and pathways to influence

Project Details


This project aims to examine both the extent and variety of parliamentary political parties’ educational activities in Finland. Even though the links between adult education and democracy are widely recognised, education in political parties has not been at the centre of scholar’s attention in the field of adult education. Thus, the project aims to initially provide an overview of the extent of educational activities taking place within current Finnish parliamentary parties. On an overarching level, the analysis then highlights the varieties of educational arrangements through qualitatively distinguishable practices and the underlying ideas informing these practices amongst the parties. Secondly, the analysis focuses in-depth on some of these distinctive educational varieties and seeks to understand them in relation to, e.g., geographical locations, political traditions, and ideologies. The project is guided by three research questions: What is the extent of educational activities in the different parties, and what are the roles of other educational providers (such as private businesses, party-political think-tanks, or institutionalised popular education provided by for example folk high schools and study associations)? What aims do the parties and their education coordinators strive to achieve through their educational arrangements? And, how can the parties’ different educational activities be interpreted as pathways for individuals seeking political influence? Empirical data will be collected in three steps. Firstly, parties' documents concerning educational arrangements will be gathered. Secondly, interviews will be carried out with representatives responsible for educational activities. Thirdly, participant observations will be carried out in activities deemed to be of interest in light of the document and interview studies. The documents and the interviewees' statements are analysed employing a narrative approach. The observational data will be analysed making use of a participatory ethnographic approach. Results are expected to show how internal party-political education plays various important roles for both the parties and their members, as parties and individuals are navigating to gain influence and enact political ideas in a changing political landscape.
Effective start/end date01/09/2131/08/24