Research profile

The Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki explores social and societal phenomena and problems in our changing world from global, European, national and local perspectives. The Faculty aims to conduct nationally and internationally strong basic research which is theoretically and methodologically regenerative. In terms of both methods and themes, the Faculty is Finland’s most diverse and internationally successful research unit in the social sciences. Along with pursuing scientific quality and impact, the Faculty aims to maintain and further develop a research culture based on open science and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Focus areas of research at the Faculty

The Faculty has four focus areas of research, which reflect the long-term concerns of its researchers and aim to give outsiders an overview of the research conducted at the Faculty:

  • Inequality, justice and security
  • Democracy and its opportunities and threats
  • Mind, understanding and participation
  • Social knowledge and expertise


Justice and the experience of justice are key for wellbeing. Global inequality also poses an increasing threat to security. In addition to these themes, the Faculty examines, for example, ethnic discrimination as well as inequality in health and living conditions.

The Faculty coordinates the University’s strategic, multidisciplinary profiling action Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ). It brings together academics from seven University of Helsinki faculties whose work enhances an in-depth understanding of causes and consequences of intersecting inequalities.

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The Faculty explores democracy in theory and practice as well as threats to it on many levels, from the local to the global. The Nordic welfare state model and its history and future are a particular focus area. The model is attracting increasing international interest.

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Getting along with others is crucial to the very survival of humankind. This key issue is examined by studying interaction and the images and identities that emerge through it. The Faculty also examines participation and its obstacles from the perspective of several disciplines.

Examples of research projects and groups related to this focus area:


Research is increasingly multi- and cross-disciplinary. The relationship between research-based information and decision-making is an important topic of discussion.

Examples of research projects and groups related to the focus area:

Initiative for Advancing Research in Social and Health Affairs

In addition, the Faculty hosts the Initiative for Advancing Research in Social and Health Affairs. The initiative advances multidisciplinary basic research on the university level and develops new ways for researchers to engage with welfare services. It seeks to facilitate research and sustain longer-term research with active engagement, extensive support and networked collaboration. It operates in all disciplines and fields of research relevant to the practice, design, development and integration of social and health services especially in the Finnish context.

The initiative brings together academics and researchers at UH with users of knowledge and other research partners (incl. other HE institutions, researchers, funding bodies). It operates in close collaboration with the Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ).

The initiative was launched by the Faculty in 2019 with funding from the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.