Towards a more equal society

· Antti Kaihovaara

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Finland is known as a relatively equal and just society in which solidarity among the citizens is high in international comparison. For decades, the Finns have tried to build a society that gets a little bit better and equal year by year. Now it seems that this positive trend has reversed in many sectors. Differences in income as well as health inequality have grown and there are worrying signs that social mobility rates have remained flat.

Socioeconomic gaps are still the most prominent, but not the only dividing lines that endanger the social cohesion of Finnish society. For example the attitudes towards labour relations and the confrontations between city centres and provinces are getting stricter. Furthermore, the Finns need to adapt to a more multicultural society with ethnic, linguistic and religious tensions.

Countries with high inequality and small cohesion are more prone to conflict. This has become painfully evident in countries like Ukraine, Egypt and Syria where the disaffection towards the old regime has led to a serious turbulence. Obviously, the situation is not nearly as volatile in Finland. However, there are some signs of growing unrest, which became visible in the Finnish Independence Day protest in Tampere in 2013. Some of the protestors claimed that it was matter of class war instead of a simple demonstration.

All things considered, equality is much more than just well-being, integrity of the society, security or economy. It’s also about justice. The equality of opportunity is one of the few values that all significant political movements in Finland have accepted as one their main goals. Social mobility on the other hand is an indicator that measures how well this goal is met.

In this project we look into the above mentioned developments and explore ways of turning the unwanted trends back to positive. The ideal should still be that people can live up their full potential regardless of their social background. In addition to material well-being this requires also possibilities to enjoy various cultural activities.

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