Cultures of Migration: A Multi-Sited Ethnography of Rural-Urban Migration in Finland

Tutkimustuotos: OpinnäyteVäitöskirjaMonografia


The transformation of the countryside and rural everyday lives have long been topics of interest for ethnologists, but the last years have shown a heightened curiosity about contemporary rural spaces within ethnological research. Next to popular representations of either a slowly dying countryside or an allegedly timeless rural idyll in public debates, ethnological research can offer a more nuanced understanding of contemporary rural spaces as it puts the everyday life experiences of rural dwellers and their perceptions at the center of its analyses.

This dissertation investigates the experiences of young adults from the region Kainuu in northeastern Finland with the locally strong out-migration of young people. Rural out-migration and urbanization are common global phenomena, but in the case of Kainuu, youth out-migration is considered one of the most pressing demographic challenges the region faces. This dissertation understands the situation in rural Kainuu as influenced by cultures of migration, which is a concept from the interdisciplinary field of migration studies. The dissertation’s ambition is to show how both young people staying and leaving experience the out-migration and how they think about the future of Kainuu. The dissertation also proposes an advancement of the concept cultures of migration based on the data gathered for this research project and a critical review of the literature on the concept. It puts forward five theses about the concept, which structure this dissertation and inform its proposed advancement. The project is a multi-sited ethnography including fieldwork in two villages in Kainuu as well as in the metropolitan region of Helsinki between 2016 and 2018. The empirical basis are 47 interviews, 27 conducted in Helsinki and 20 in Kainuu. The project additionally employed a participatory visual elicitation method, which invited the interlocutors to take photographs relating to the research interest. They donated 156 photographs for the project, 93 of them in Helsinki and 63 in Kainuu. Overall, 34 young adults participated, 18 of them in Helsinki and 16 in Kainuu.

The project finds that the concept cultures of migration can be a useful frame of reference to interpret instances of long-lasting strong out-migration, if its theoretical flaws are kept in mind. In the case of rural Kainuu, the research material indicates that central characteristics of cultures of migration exist in its rural and remote municipalities. These include a long local migration history, social distinction as a significant influence on young people’s migration decisions, a continuous impact on the mobility decisions of those who have already migrated, an awareness of an expectation to migrate also amongst those whose ambitions are incompatible with leaving, and a notable effect on how both out-migrants and non-migrants think about the potential future of their home region.
Myöntävä instituutio
  • Helsingin yliopisto
  • Snellman, Hanna, Valvoja
  • Heikkilä, Elli, Valvoja, Ulkoinen henkilö
Myöntöpäivämäärä27 tammik. 2023
Painoksen ISBN978-951-51-8855-7
Sähköinen ISBN978-951-51-8856-4
TilaJulkaistu - 27 tammik. 2023
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG4 Tohtorinväitöskirja (monografia)


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