Production and consumption of recreational gambling in twentieth-century Finland

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


    Gambling is a ubiquitous phenomenon in Finland although only a less than a
    century ago lotteries in goods were the only legal form of gambling. This
    research explains this change. The focus of the research is on legal,
    commercialized gambling and on recreational gamblers instead of problem
    gambling or problem gamblers, because the field of gambling studies has
    traditionally focused on problematic aspects of gambling. The time period of
    the study stretches from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first one, but the
    focus is mostly on the twentieth century. The research question is
    multifaceted. The research focuses on the question of the cultural, social, and
    historical place of a phenomenon understood as gambling in a certain timespatial
    context (in this case the Finnish society in the nineteenth, twentieth
    and twenty-first centuries). The research asks how gambling and discourses
    and practices related to it have become to what they are and how they are
    experienced today: Why and how was gambling tamed to be part Finnish way
    of life; what has been gambling’s social, cultural, and economic significance to
    its practitioners, and what can research done on gambling tell about the
    history and changes of the Finnish society in the period? The objective of the
    study is to historicize gambling’s place by researching discourses and practices
    related to the ensemble understood as gambling from the theoretical
    perspective of Michel Foucault’s dispositif.
    To answer these questions a variety of qualitative data has been used. The
    idea has been to explore the ensemble understood as gambling from the
    perspectives of production (the regulation of gambling, gambling operators,
    technological changes affecting gambling), and consumption (the gamblers).
    The data include contemporary official memorandums, newspaper and
    magazine articles, archive material by two Finnish gambling monopolies
    Veikkaus and RAY, various collections of oral history data, Finnish fiction, and
    auto-ethnographic observations. The main method of the research is historical
    approach, which means using diverse and fragmented sources with a
    commitment to their relevance, reliability and validity and to different
    longitudinal and qualitative methods that recognize the possibility of change.
    The research results show that the history of Finnish gambling can be
    formulated into three dispositifs: prohibition dispositif, common good
    dispositif, and risk dispositif. These dispositifs describe solutions to the
    "problem" of gambling that are contingent upon the socio-temporal
    circumstances of the Finnish society. The dispositifs reveal how gambling has
    been understood, practiced, and regulated in certain periods, and they are also
    indicators of the change concerning gambling that has taken place in Finland.
    It is argued that in an international comparison, gambling in Finland was both
    legalised and tamed quite early and exceptionally successfully. Especially the
    Finnish state has had a quite unique role in taming gambling: Gambling
    defined good citizen-ship and the state actively promoted it in many ways
    decades earlier than similar processes were underway in Anglophonic
    The theoretical ambition has been to take part in the international
    discussion in the field of gambling studies regarding gambling’s historical
    place, taming processes and gambling as consumption in Western societies in
    the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and to give an example of
    the usefulness of the concept of dispositif, and demonstrate both the value of
    comparative approach and of oral history data for the field of gambling studies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    Place of PublicationHelsinki
    Print ISBNs978-951-51-3281-9
    Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-3282-6
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2017
    MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

    Fields of Science

    • 5202 Economic and Social History

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