New graduates from the LFC programme

Six new LFC students have successfully graduated from the programme – congratulations! The LFC students graduate from three different tracks according to their chosen specialization – business studies, politics, or governance; but one can clearly see multidisciplinarity in the students’ works.

The theses this time have focused on a wide range of topics including solidarity economy in the Nordic welfare states, co-creation for sustainable development, water diplomacy in Central Asia, social construction of retail digitalization, depoliticization in Finnish politics, and the neoliberal agency in feminism. Below we provide the short abstracts of the theses with the permanent links to the publications. Enjoy!

Gabriel Esber Elias’s master’s thesis Solidarity Economy in the context of the Nordic welfare state identifies how the Nordic welfare enables and constrains the development of Solidarity Economy. The research provides an extensive literature review of Solidarity Economy and a more clarified picture of the concept in Finland. The analysis reveals that the high level of quality of life, as well as the public service provision, social security and certain infrastructure offered by the Nordic welfare can enhance the capability of individuals to promote Solidarity Economy. On the other hand, the same scenario may constrain the development of Solidarity Economy as it may produce the perception that systematic changes in the economy is not necessary. Furthermore, the analysis suggests that the close relation between Finnish society and the state and the high amount of trust on the authorities may be a barrier to the development of Solidarity Economy. The lack of financial resources of Solidarity Economy enterprises is another identified aspect that can undermine the development of Solidarity Economy. On the other hand, alike movements, cooperatives and increase awareness of social and environmental issues may enable the scale up of Solidarity Economy through the construction of a more robust network.

Karolina Marisa’s master thesis Critical Perspectives on Co-Creation for Sustainable Development contributes to the further definition of co-creation in relation to sustainable development in an international setting: it sheds light on the potential of the co-creation approach in fostering sustainable development and identifies mechanisms emergent in an international development setting. The study constructs a conceptualization of co-creation in relation to sustainable development, as a novel approach to doing development. The findings reveal constrainment, adaptability and reciprocity as the main emergent mechanisms present in the intervention. The findings suggest that the co-creation approach supports sustainability objectives and has potential in involving marginalized groups in development activities.

Yesselin Hermano’s master thesis Water Diplomacy in Central Asia: Discourse Analysis of the Rogun Dam  has the purpose to study the Rogun dam case through the water diplomacy framework (WDF). Using the WDF as an analytical tool, the research seeks to identify elements that can contribute to the political stability and peace between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The data shows that Tajikistan has never changed its discourses concerning the dam throughout the years of planning the construction of the Rogun dam. Despite the high costs, the dam symbolizes the empowerment and the growth of the country, which are reached thanks to the contribution of the inhabitants and the national institutions. On the other hand, Uzbekistan has been hostile to the construction of the dam due to the great damage that it can cause to the country and to the environment. However, the research has also identified that with the new president Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who assumed office in December 2016, the discourse of Uzbekistan has changed: from a discourse of distrust, now the discourse is shifting to a discourse of economic and political cooperation with Tajikistan. This discourse can also include the participation of the construction of the dam, which contributes significantly to the peace and stability of the two countries.

Charlotte Walker’s master thesis Social Construction of Retail Digitalization: Managerial Perspectives seeks to gain a holistic understanding of the digital transformation of retail from a retail manager’s perspective. Thus the study explores the ways in which retail managers are socially constructing retail digitalization. The findings indicate that though managers are aware of the various threats caused by digitalization, overall, they consider it a positive movement that stimulates innovation, offers new solutions, improves business processes, and enables a better service offering for customers. Walker’s study suggests that undergoing the digital transformation is not only a technological change in processes and systems, but a human change in terms of ways of thinking and working. The findings further indicate that retail managers must develop with the organization and have a thorough understanding of their business and the retail market.

Markus Mäki’s master thesis The Debt Clock is Ticking: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Depoliticization in Finnish Politics examines how depoliticization practices are produced in the context of Finnish parliamentary elections. The research consists of a qualitative content analysis on an electoral debate that was organized by a Finnish broadcasting company MTV in May 2015. According to the analysis, depoliticization is mainly produced in Finland by the European Union fiscal policy regulations and the neoliberal ideology that encourages governments to advance fiscal austerity measures in balancing the public economy. Furthermore, Finnish mainstream media tends to reproduce depoliticization discourse in their presentations because it has widely adopted the capitalist economic system. This research suggests that liberal democracies should avoid having too much depoliticization in their political systems because otherwise political antagonism could eventually take radical forms that might not be democratic or liberal.

Iida Jokinen’s master thesis “Go Out There and Advance”: Neoliberal Agency in Feminism analyzes the self-reliant political agency of self-identified feminists operating in the Finnish context, focusing on the apparently neoliberalistic practice of self leadership. As a result, the study suggests that feminism in the Finnish context has attained neoliberal elements. The participants were highly self-conscious and used self leadership strategies to battle various biases. Encouragement of others and of self were regarded a useful tool in increasing balance and equality. Yet to argue that feminism has become neoliberalized is unjustified. Despite their internal efforts, the participants did not demonstrate disregard of structural issues. On the contrary, they demanded equal opportunities intersectionally and found participation to capitalism an insufficient measure of equality.

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