What are your research topics?
I study social law, which is part of public law. Social law is one of the most extensive branches of law in our legal system: regulation under social law encompasses both income security – including pension security, unemployment security and security in the case of illness – and social and health services.
Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?
A typical approach in research focused on social law is to examine how the rights of individuals to various social benefits and welfare services are determined, and how well these rights are realised in practice. The doctoral students I supervise are currently investigating, among other things, how well the right to care of intoxicant abusers is implemented, that is, whether the services are provided to them. In addition, they are exploring the boundary between educational methods used in institutional care associated with child protection and the statutory restrictions to fundamental rights, and how the concept of human dignity is used in legal argumentation.
What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?
I am currently heading a research project looking into the conditions the Constitution of Finland sets for the ongoing social security reform. Our findings are aimed at helping the social security committee that is preparing the reform.
Toomas Kotkas is a professor of public law at the Faculty of Law.