Brown Bag Seminar

The Methodological Unit organizes a weekly Brown Bag Seminar to highlight novel methodological approaches in humanities and social sciences. The idea of the meetings is to introduce methodological innovations and cutting-edge research in various disciplines in an easily accessible manner and have an interdisciplinary discussion in an easy-going atmosphere over lunch. Bring your own lunch, we bring fresh methodological topics!

Every Tuesday at 12.15.

HSSH Brown Bag Seminar

The Idea 

There will be a 20-minute introduction to the methodological theme, followed by an open discussion of 40 minutes. The seminars are open to everybody. We expect a multidisciplinary and methodologically curious audience from different faculties and units of the central campus. The language of the meetings can be Finnish or English.

The most important prerequisite for participation is not methodological expertise, but an open mind towards new methodological innovations and discussion across methodological and disciplinary boundaries.

Until otherwise informed the meetings will be online on Zoom. 

Zoom link

You'll find past Brown Bag events here.

22.2.2022 winter break

Social study of microbes – collaboration, interdisciplinarity and limits of methods

In the past decade, scientific and public understandings of microbes have undergone considerable changes. Microbes, hitherto predominantly considered as harmful and largely ignored by social scientists, are abundant and now seen to have vital, life sustaining functions within various ecological niches in and outside the body. Simultaneously, increasing antibiotic drug resistance means that common infections and everyday surgical operations are much harder to treat. The changes in microbiological thinking and practices present social sciences opportunities to explore microbiological paradigm shifts and how new futures with microbes can be built.

Studying microbes, however, is not merely about magpie-ing trendy case studies or mapping the zeitgeist.  The enquiry brings to light and is confronted by profound limitations in social theory and methodology to address what is at stake.  This talk explores the limitations and describes how the Centre of the Social Study of Microbes makes attempts to overcome these with interdisciplinarity, collaboration and experiments in methodology.

Salla Sariola is the Director of the Centre for the Social Study of Microbes at University of Helsinki and a Finnish Academy Research Fellow in sociology. Her current research on the social study of microbes includes exploring changing scientific practices on environmental microbes and antimicrobial resistance as well as developing fermentation as an experimental research method. She is the author of 4 books and her fieldwork has taken her to feminist, queer and HIV activist movements in India and Kenya, hospitals of Sri Lanka, and rural laboratories in Benin and Burkina Faso, as well as fermentation enthusiasts in Finland the Northeast of India.

Causal Decomposition of Population Health Differences Using the G-Formula 

One key objective of the population health sciences is to understand why one social group has different levels of health and well-being compared with another. Several methods exist to answer these type of questions, but only recently a method has anchored decompositions within causal inference theory. In this paper, we demonstrate how to implement the causal decomposition using Monte Carlo integration and the parametric g-formula.

Causal decomposition can help to identify the sources of differences across populations and provide researchers with a way to move beyond estimating inequalities to explaining them and determining what can be done to reduce health disparities. Our implementation approach can easily and flexibly be applied for different types of outcome and explanatory variables without having to derive decomposition equations. Ultimately, we outline how to implement a very general decomposition algorithm that is grounded in counterfactual theory but still easy to apply to a wide range of situations.

Maarten J. Bijlsma is assistant professor of precision drug therapy and real world evidence at the Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy, University of Groningen (the Netherlands), and former deputy head at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (Germany). Maarten is an applied statistician and epidemiologist with a strong interest in the counterfactual causal inference framework, with a focus on the g-formula to study processes that are interdependent over time.

Re­searc­hing the circu­la­tion of cons­pi­racy theo­ries in Fin­land

Conspiracy theories and their global circulation is not a new phenomenon, neither is the fact that the need for explanations and meaning at the time of crisis increases religiosity as well as interest in conspiratorial narratives. It is then not surprising that during the Covid-19 pandemic different types of conspiracy theories have circulated in the global media environment. During the first year of the pandemic conspiracy theories become topical also in Finland and circulating narratives were localized in different ways into our national contexts and sub-cultures.

This talk describes a collaborative sub-study of the research project Politics of Conspiracy Theories (SAPO) which focused on the political utilization of conspiracy theories and the consequences this for media and political life. In the sub-study the Finnish networks and imaginaries of conspiracy theories were studied with a multi-method approach combining virtual ethnography and computational methods (network analysis). Data was collected on Twitter, Telegram and two conservative Christian fringe media outlets. The talk explains the core findings while also exploring some of the methodologic complexities at play in the study.

Associate Professor Katja Valaskivi is one of the research programme directors at HSSH and also heads the new interfaculty Helsinki Research Hub on Religion, Media and Social Change (Heremes). Her research focuses on the circulation of belief systems, worldviews and ideologies from the perspectives of media research and sociology of religion. She is currently the PI in research projects on mediatized religious populism, politics of conspiracy theories as well as the circulation of extremism in the dark web and beyond. Her recent co-authored articles deal with the circulation of hate speech in 4chan after terror attacks (First Monday 2021), the news desk as an attention apparatus in terrorism news coverage (Journalism Practice 2020), the epistemic modes of terrorism news reporting (Journalism 2021) and the countermedia as an integral part of the hybrid media environment (New Media and Society, 2021). coming soon.

More information coming soon.

More information coming soon.

More information coming soon.

More information coming soon.