Virpi Marjaana Timonen

Sosiaali- ja terveyspalveluiden tutkimuksen ja johtamisen professori

  • PL 54 (Unioninkatu 37)



  • Suomi

1995 …2024

Tutkimustuotoksia vuodessa

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Henkilökohtainen profiili

Tutkimuksen ja opetuksen kuvaus

My research focuses on ageing societies but I work flexibly and ethusiasically across different inter-connected topics in the interest of contributing my expertise on theorising and research methods to diverse projects.

My work on long-term care policies has illuminated the ways in which public, private and informal actors' involvement in care is evolving over time. This direction is grounded in earlier research on the politics of welfare state restructuring in the Nordic sphere. I am interested in the strategies that governments follow in trying to 'square the circle' of expanding demand for care (and other public provisions) and concerns about costs of care (and other services). I have identified how these concerns have led to the incentivisation of family care inputs, encouragement of private sector operators, and greater (sometimes unreasonable) expectations of independence and agency on the part of older adults.

I have co-authored extensively on the ways in which technology and care (and welfare states more generally) interact and theorised the reasons why technological innovations often fail to meet the needs of the people they are supposed to serve.

My investigations of family-level practices between different generations have provided insights into how older adults contribute to the maintenance of family solidarity but also make choices that break with established roles. I have illuminated the agentic behaviour of older women in 'undoing gender' through orientation to third-age activities and away from expectations of unpaid care, and how such choices are shaped by women's socioeconomic positions.

My original investigations of intergenerational solidarity at societal level have revealed the interconnectedness of public and private solidarities, especially in welfare states that are highly dependent on practices of solidarity at family and community level.

My work has demonstrated the centrality of social positionalities to both individual and societal level patterns in ageing societies. I have drawn out the significance of social constructions around ethnicity in the production of care and the centrality of gender in shaping both family-level care practices and the organisation of formal care. My work on migrant care workers demonstrates the continued reliance on globally mobile women who are socially constructed as 'suited' to precarious and undervalued work that underpins social care regimes in the western world.

I have generated novel theory on how older adults and 'successful' / 'active' ageing are socially constructed and operationalised by a range of actors, including policymakers and commercial interests. I theorise that these actors 'model' old age in ways that often are detrimental to marginalised groups. My Model Ageing theory amounts to a fundamental critique of paradigms that currently dominate policy making for older adults. 

Last but certainly not least, I am a research methodologist whose work has helped to make Grounded Theory more accessible and usable among a wide range of researchers across substantive fields of research. My translation of different strands within the Grounded Theory method into a unified re-interpretation has drawn out their underlying commonalities. 

Supervision and teaching

I have supervised 16 PhDs to successful completion, and mentored and supervised 10 post-doctoral researchers in my own research teams and in close collaborations.

I have taught diverse courses in Social Policy and Sociology (foundation and advanced level); including Comparative Welfare States; New Risks and Welfare States; The Life Course and Evolving Welfare States; Introduction to Social Policy (first year UG); and Ageing Societies, in each case having designed and taken responsibility for full module delivery.

At postgraduate (and advanced undergraduate) level, I currently teach foundational and advanced qualitative research methods. From autumn 2023, I will be teaching Social Policy Concepts to an international group of Masters students.


Since completion of my doctorate at the University of Oxford in 2001, I have published over 125 research outputs on social policies, welfare states, intergenerational relations, ageing, care, technology and research methods (among other topics), including three sole-authored and one co-authored book, two edited volumes, 25+ book chapters and 65+ journal articles. Approximately 90% of my journal articles have been published in Q1 and Q2 journals, and my work has gained 5,250+ citations and a H-index of 40 +.

The journals I have published in span many disciplines, indicative of my curiosity and adaptability - including, e.g. Gender & Society (Q1 - Scopus), Ageing & Society (Q1), Family Relations (Q1), Qualitative Health Research (Q1), Journal of Aging Studies (Q1), Social Politics (Q1), Technological Forecasting and Social Change (Q1), Research on Aging (Q1), Social Science & Medicine (Q1), Health and Social Care in the Community (Q1), Journal of Family Issues (Q1), Journal of Social Policy (Q1), Qualitative Research (Q1), European Journal of Ageing (Q1), International Journal of Qualitative Methods (Q1), British Journal of Sports Medicine (Q1), Health Services Research (Q1), among many others.

I have held leading research and advisory roles in over 18 major research initiatives, including over 12 research grants which have involved gaining and personally managing over EUR 3 million in research funding, as well as direct collaboration in projects in excess of EUR 20 million.

A significant amount of my time has been devoted to management and leadership duties. I have a track-record of productive involvement in numerous cross-Faculty and multi-disciplinary initiatives.

I have served as the elected President of the Research Committee on the Sociology of Ageing (RC11) of the International Sociological Association (ISA), the largest global scholarly community of social gerontologists.


Koulutus / tieteellinen pätevyys

Social Policy, Politics, D.Phil., University of Oxford

Myöntöpäivä: 11 syysk. 2001


  • 5142 Sosiaali- ja yhteiskuntapolitiikka
  • 5141 Sosiologia