Special Section: Degrowth, culture and power, edited by Lisa L. Gezon and Susan Paulson

Steering clear of politics: local virtues in Helsinki's design activism

Author: Eeva Berglund (Independent scholar, Helsinki, Finland)

  • Steering clear of politics: local virtues in Helsinki's design activism

    Special Section: Degrowth, culture and power, edited by Lisa L. Gezon and Susan Paulson

    Steering clear of politics: local virtues in Helsinki's design activism

    Author:

Abstract

Practical projects around the world are exploring and prefiguring ecologically feasible futures. The ideas informing these initiatives are familiar from degrowth discourses. But particularly where activists hail from the professional middle-classes of wealthy cities - architects, designers and other 'creatives' in Helsinki for example - they risk being dismissed by the media as well as by academics as vacuous life-style experimenters. Looking at Finland, the sense that this activity is not truly political or transformative can be further enhanced by activists' own reluctance to enter into explicitly political debate and their preference for discussing futures in the neutral language of science. Connecting today's situation to precursors in the 1960s, however, we can see how these local projects are embedded in local political culture, including a Finnish tendency to play up scientific rationality as a tool for managing collective affairs. This contrast with many other degrowth discourses shows the significance of local histories in influencing the space available for people to work out alternatives to the status quo.

Keywords: social movements, Finland, urban/DIY activism, design

How to Cite:

Berglund, E., (2017) “Steering clear of politics: local virtues in Helsinki's design activism”, Journal of Political Ecology 24(1), 566-581. doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/v24i1.20893

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Published on
27 Sep 2017
Peer Reviewed