People & Research: Hanna Ylöstalo is concerned with gendered economy-society relations and recent shifts in public governance

The AGORA Research Centre brings together a wide diversity of researchers and research groups interested in current issues of social justice and equality in education. Here we will present their research. This time, we introduce Hanna Ylöstalo, senior lecturer in sociology, University of Turku.
Hanna Ylöstalo (kuva: Veikko Somerpuro)

Hanna Ylöstalo (Photo: Veikko Somerpuro

What are your research topics?

My research interests lie in the fields of feminist political economy, political sociology and gender equality research. My current research is concerned with gendered economy-society relations. I am particularly interested in recent shifts in public governance and knowledge-policy relations as well as their influence on gender equality policy and feminist politics. Lately I have also become interested in political imagination and everyday utopias.

How does your research relate to issues of social justice and equality?

The issues of social justice and equality have always been at the heart of my research. I understand economy-society relations to be deeply gendered, and in my research I am particularly interested in their gendered dimensions. I also take actively part in societal discussions about social justice and equality as a researcher, and in my academic work I aim at bringing together theory and practice, feminist theory and feminist politics.

Tell something about your latest/​​​​​​​​​current research?

At the moment, I am involved with two research projects. I lead a research project Equality to economics, feminism to fiscal policy: Tensions of feminist knowledge and politics in the strategic state (FEMTIE), funded by Kone Foundation. In FEMTIE we examine the tense relations between knowledge, politics and democracy. Politics is about values and ideologies, and knowledge – what do we know, what constitutes as knowledge, whose knowledge counts, how knowledge is used – is tied with political battles. In FEMTIE we focus on economic policy and economic knowledge as well as their feminist critique. By analyzing feminist politics we aim to make visible alternatives to hegemonic economic thinking. We also analyze feminist politics critically, especially how the turn towards evidence and expertise in feminist politics depoliticizes feminist knowledge and pushes civil society actors further away from political arenas. We combine theory and action by searching for alternative and more democratic ways of knowing.

The second research project I am involved with is Political imagination and alternative futures (POLIMA), funded by Academy of Finland and led by Suvi Salmenniemi. POLIMA is an ethnographic research project that addresses the particularly timely question of political alienation and the dissipation of political imagination, on the one hand, and a need for fundamental social and political change, on the other. The project tackles the question of political alienation and social change by exploring practices and spaces of political imagination in contemporary Finland. In so doing it seeks to identify conceptual and empirical elements for alternative social formations and advance social change towards more democratic, socially just and ecologically sustainable futures. It combines political sociology and artistic research and ethnographically explores political imagination of diverse groups and individuals in the fields of art, activism, social media and education.

What kind of discussions would you wish to initiate with your research?

In recent years I have built bridges between feminist research and political economy by engaging with discussions about feminist economics and feminist political economies. As chief editors in Finnish Journal of Political Economy, Anna Elomäki and I aim at bringing feminist issues such as social reproduction to the discussions about politics, economy and political economy.

Read more about Hanna and her research in her blog.