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Social Science Research Institute

Social Science Research Institute

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.



The Citizens’ Parliament’s concluding report

​You can read the results from the Citizens’ Parliament in its concluding report. The report is written in Finnish and contains a Swedish summary.

Read Samforsk’s annual report for 2023

Två personer står och talar med varandra.
I bakgrunden syns siluetterna av Borgbacken.
På bilden står det "Samforsk, The Social Science Research Institute. Annual report 2023".


The Citizens’ Parliament

Randomly selected people from all over the country gathered in November for the first ever citizens’ parliament in Finland to discuss four citizen initiatives regarding fuel- and drug policies. The Citizens’ Parliament was organized by FutuDem researchers under the leadership of professors Kimmo Grönlund and Kaisa Herne. In addition, the team working on the project consisted of researchers Janette Huttunen, Maija Jäske and Marina Lindell, as well as Isak Vento, Kim Backström, and research assistants Eva Aspnäs and Ellen Ijäs. Moreover, 23 moderators were hired to lead the small-group discussions.

The Citizens’ Parliament experiment was also a scientific study with three treatment conditions, and a control group. A total of 671 randomly selected Finns participated in the Citizens’ Parliament. All participants received balanced background information in advance, engaged in moderated small groups, and posed questions to experts. Of the participants, 237 discussed online on a platform where a computer automatically moderated the conversations. The platform has been developed at Stanford University. At the same time, trained individuals moderated online discussions in small groups for 234 participants. Finally, 200 people gathered in Helsinki for discussions in small groups, each with a trained moderator. The discussions followed specific principles of deliberative democracy and were conducted according to the Deliberative Poll® model developed by Professor James Fishkin of Stanford University. All participants received a remuneration of 200 euros.

In total 30 000 Finnish individuals received an invitation based on random sampling, out of which 671 were eventually selected to participate. Everyone over the age of 18 living in Finland had the opportunity to receive the invitation. The goal of the Citizens’ Parliament is to provide well-thought-out perspectives that can support the decision-making of the parliament. Moreover, using the Citizens’ Parliament, researchers can study whether a constructive and knowledge-based conversation about complex political disputes succeeds online in the same way as in physical meeting groups.

In the project, researchers are investigating whether the discussion context affects opinion formation, participants’ level of knowledge, and their political views. The experiences of participants in the Citizens’ Parliament in the three different contexts are also compared. In the Citizens’ Parliament, randomly selected Finns discussed four citizen initiatives.

The groups’ opinions on drug policy and fuel prices shifted in the same direction. Participants’ opinions shifted towards a more liberal drug policy and a more sustainable pricing of fuel. Support for drug consumption rooms and the legalization of cannabis increased. At the same time, support for a fairer fuel tax decreased. Support for abolishing the diesel fuel tax also decreased. Discussions where participants gathered physically at round tables led to slightly greater changes in opinions than the online discussions.

When discussions follow specific deliberative principles, the context does not seem to play a significant role in terms of opinion change or participants’ experiences of participation. Almost all participants were satisfied with the Citizens’ Parliament,” says Professor Kimmo Grönlund.

The goal of the Citizens’ Parliament was to provide informed public perspectives that can support the decision-making in the Finnish parliament. FutuDem collaborated with, the Finnish Parliament, Tampere University, Sitra (think-tank), and Stanford University.

FutuDem Newsletter

Read the latest news from the FutuDem community.

Read the election report ”Finland turned right: Voting and public opinion in the parliamentary election of 2023”



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.

Read more about the laboratories.


Read Samforsk’s annual report for 2022

A summary of our work and accomplishments in 2022

Read Samforsk’s annual report for 2021

A summary of our work and accomplishments in 2021

Read Samforsk’s annual report for 2020

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.



Studerande med en laptop

Partnerships and Cooperation

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.

Päivitetty 7.5.2024