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Juha Siltala

Juha Heikki Siltala
Born November 25, 1957

Master of Arts 1982 (general history) and PhD 1985 (Finnish history), University of Helsinki
Docent in History 1990–, University of Helsinki
Docent in cultural history 1995–, University of Turku

Professor of Finnish history 1997–, University of Helsinki
Research fellow 1985–97, Academy of Finland

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Membership of scholarly societies:
The Finnish Historical Society
Finnish Academy of Science and Letters
Association for Psychoanalytic Study of Culture & Society
International Society for Political Psychology
European Human Behavior and Evolution Association, Capitalism, State and Society research network

Awards and special achievements:
State Award for Public Information 1993
MTV 3 Award for Culture 1993
Researcher of the Year 1998
Väinö Tanner Foundation award 2000
Award of the Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran Church 2004
Award of the Finnish Social Forum 2005
Women Journalists in Finland award 2005
Membership of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters 2014

Photo: Eetu Sillanpää, WSOY
Written by Juha Siltala (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

From the consequences of the rise of the middle class to the consequences of its fall

My long-term themes of individualisation and the social peace created by the rise of the middle class are connected with my present topic, the decline of the Western middle class, and individual adaptive strategies in the face of this change. They can vary from ever harder competition to political protests and the formation of coalitions, from depression to retreating to alternative playing fields.

In addition to material survival, it is a question of feelings of self-worth and the search for balance. The adaptive strategy of the self-controlling individual who deals with internal conflict may be replaced by different forms of adaptation. Democracy and the rule of law have been connected with the strength of the middle class, so that individual cohesion is once again intertwined with social integration.

Conditions produce adaptive habits and adaptation maintains the conditions from which it benefits. The multifaceted feedback from genetics, the history of typical education and experience, changes in living conditions, politics and ideologies is capable of producing something more than what can be expected from individual factors. That is why history as a social science is so interesting.

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