Main research and teaching areas
- Social psychology, cultural sociology, interactionism
- Qualitative methods
- Criminology (sociological and social psychological) and social control
Current research and teaching
Research: My research is quite often at the intersection of cultural sociology, social psychology and criminology.
I mostly work with research materials that are close to everyday life (qualitative interviews, personal narratives, texts, fieldnotes from participant observation, etc.). I combine these with quite general and curiosity-driven questions, such as “how do people act toward one another here?”, “how is social order created?”, “what characterizes a people-processing institution?”, “how does interaction become violent?”, “what is considered to be corruption?”, “how do young people relate to the police?”, “how do people get access to various places and resources?”, “why is fieldwork embarrassing?”, “what motivates the actors of this field?”, or “which meanings are ascribed to the phenomenon X?”
By doing so I try to contribute to various directions and strands of sociological research: to criminology and the study of social control, to social psychology, disability studies and medical sociology, to the sociology of violence and interpersonal conflicts, to the sociology of gifts and corruption, to cultural sociology, the sociology of emotions and the sociology of play, and to the study of young people and today’s so-called ‘total institutions’ (and the institutions of the welfare state). My studies often revolve around social problems in some way or another, and often include a critical stance towards established “solutions”.
A common denominator is my interest in how people are entwined in each other’s ways of acting and how they really cannot be separated from culture and society – and the other way around. While many would characterize my work as micro-sociology, I prefer to think that it more often transcends “micro”. Crime and punishment, disability and culture, control and institutions – these phenomena and circumstances are “meso” and “macro” too.
I’m especially fond of theoretically surprising research that captures glimpses of real life. This involves the tricky combination of capturing social life in words, so that it still feels “alive”, and simultaneously offering an original theoretical understanding of it.
I also try to develop our research methods, including social scientists’ ways of analyzing and theorizing. This is a kind of research about research. The very process of knowledge formation interests me the most, how social science is made out of empirical material, theory and a sort of restrained fantasy. Sometimes this follows what the method books say, sometimes not.
Teaching: criminology, social psychology, sociological theory (for instance symbolic interactionism, constructionism, ethnomethodology), ethnography and other qualitative methods, analysis and theorizing, supervisor for students and PhD students.