Samforsk, The Social Science Research Institute, is an independent department within the Faculty of Social Sciences, Business and Economics, and Law at Åbo Akademi University. Samforsk is located in both Turku and Vaasa and is in close collaboration with the Political Science department. The research staff at the institute conducts collectively coordinated research as well as individual research.
Professor Kimmo Grönlund is the director of the institute, Docent Lauri Rapeli is the head of research and PD Marina Lindell is a researcher. The remaining staff, consisting of about 16 people, receive funding from external sources. Our primary financier is the Academy of Finland.
A summary of our work and accomplishments in
Read the latest news from the FutuDem community.
New laboratories for research infrastructure
During the fall of 2022, the new deliberation laboratories in the ASA building at Åbo Akademi University have been completed and can now be used. The laboratories are part of the Finnish Research Infrastructure for Public Opinion (FIRIPO) and is equipped with the latest video conference technology. The idea when designing the laboratories has been to create an inclusive and equal environment where external interference is excluded.
Summer School in Deliberative Democracy and Public Opinion 2022
The fourth Summer School in Deliberative Democracy and Public Opinion took place between the 20th and 22nd of June, in Åbo. It was organized by the Social Science Research Institute at Åbo Akademi University (Samforsk) in collaboration with Canberra University, the University of Turku, Tampere University, and the ECPR Standing Group on Democratic Innovations. This year’s Summer School was funded by the Future of Democracy (FutuDem) and the Finnish Research Infrastructure for Public Opinion (FIRIPO). The theme for the 2022 Summer School was Understanding Public Deliberation – Contexts, Opinions and Consequences. The Summer School brought together 67 people from 27 different countries. Three inspiring keynote lectures were given by Professor James S. Fishkin (Stanford University), Professor Jane Suiter (Dublin City University), and Professor Graham Smith (University of Westminster). Research Director Lauri Rapeli (Åbo Akademi University) chaired the roundtable discussion The future of deliberative democracy. The panelists were Professor Andre Bächtiger (University of Stuttgart), Professor Nicole Curato (Canberra University), Professor Sofie Marien (KU Leuven) and Professor Kimmo Grönlund (Åbo Akademi University). As well as listening and taking part in interesting discussions, doctoral candidates from all over the world got the chance to present their papers and get feedback from their peers and senior colleagues. The organizers would like to thank everyone that participated in the Summer School!
A summary of our work and accomplishments in 2021
A summary of our work and accomplishments in 2020
What we do at Samforsk
Our expertise includes survey research and experimental research. We conduct online panel-studies, traditional survey research, survey experiments, and experiments in deliberative democracy. Our “Virtual Polity” platform can be used for research on online political communication. Experimental research has developed into an integrated part of our research during the past years and our researchers have a wide knowledge of research methods. The institute is currently coordinating the Finnish National Election Survey.
We collaborate extensively both nationally and internationally with leading researchers and research institutes in fields such as democracy research, political participation, and democratic innovations. Researcher exchange is an important part of our activity. Our primary fields of research are democracy research and electoral research. Because Samforsk is an academic research institute, we primarily conduct research with a clear academic purpose, but we also manage commissioned research.
Democracy research at The Social Science Institute focuses on studying the current condition of democracy and to test new deliberative and participatory models of democracy funtions in practice, especially democratic deliberation. The Institute also coordinates the center of excellence in public opinion research ”FutuDem” (the Future of Democracy). The research at FutuDem inkludes seven work packages, each led by a senior researcher both in Åbo and in Vasa. The research is carried out in close collaboration with the Ministry of Justice in Finland, the City of Turku, the Association of Local and Regional Authorities in Finland, and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions. Under the leadership of Professor Grönlund, and in collaboration with researchers from the University of Turku and the University of Tampere, Samforsk has organized seven experiments on citizen deliberation – three offline and four online. The experiments are unique in a Finnish context but also relevant for democracy research internationally. The latest experiment, Turku speaks, took place in spring 2020.
We have a leading role in finnish public opinion research. The Finnish Research Infrastructure for Public Opinion, FIRIPO, is a multidisciplinary consortium for the study of public opinion, attitude formation and choice behavior and is led by Samforsk’s director Kimmo Grönlund. The central aims of the consortium are to systematize and coordinate scientific research on public opinion and choice behaviour in Finland, as well as to learn, develop and share (new) surveymethods in public opinion research. The consortium will also create an open node for public opinion research, and accelerate open science aims through open data and open collaboration in public opinion research in collaboration with the Finnish Social Science Data Archive FSD.
Samforsk has a leading role in the Finnish National Election Study. The institute’s research on elections and voters, focuses on themes such as voter volatility, candidate centered voting, electoral behavior on the internet, and electoral cleavages. The institute’s research on the two latest elections (2011 and 2015) has also been complemented by electronic panel-studies. The institute is also engaged in extensive Nordic and international cooperation concerning electoral research.
We study public opinion and especially Finland Swedish public opinion using the opinion polls Barometern and Språkbarometern. The institute has administered these polls regularly since 2002, in order to analyze Finland Swedish opinion, language choices, the quality of services in Swedish, consumption patterns, and other prevailing issues.