For the Environment, Against Bureaucracy: Soft Values and the Work of Synchronization in Finnish Political Debate during the 1980s

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The relationship between economic activity and environmental protection was hotly debated in Finland in the 1980s. Contemporaries conceived of themselves as existing on the verge of a knowledge society, and when rhetorically presenting contesting economic and ecological futures for this novel society, they used new, short-lived concepts. This article argues that one such concept, soft values, highlights a clash between futures. In one possible future, environmental equilibrium was a new model for economic activity, while in another, environmental protection would take place as a result of the current economic model. The former was quickly synchronized into the latter. Soft values were thus used to harmonize environmental protection with notions of efficiency and national competitiveness under a linear temporality based on a belief in the necessity of economic growth.
Original languageEnglish
JournalContributions to the History of Concepts
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)104-124
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 5201 Political History
  • 615 History and Archaeology

Cite this