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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

The many ways of keeping society and the individual together

When I was writing a book on working life, I first began to properly read the international literature on economic history, and the following ten years of teaching, collaboration with Marku Kuisma led to my lecturing on the long history of capitalism from early capitalism until the present global system.

Pondering the different reasons for the rise and fall of various centres combined naturally with the comparative history of civilisation, whose classics we dealt with in academic reading circles. The history of civilisation wound its way back to what kind of adaptive mechanisms different living conditions produced and linked in with the larger modern debate on the decrease or increase of violence and the development of empathy. The theme of institutional or social trust continued in my treatment of the subject of social fragmentation or cohesion at a watershed moment of Finnish history.

I worked with all this in a wide range of publications on the history of internal peace in Finland and explanatory theories on political violence and the replacement of armed groups by the State and the State’s relationship with the market economy (2011–2012). In truth, I decided to develop the old themes of the history of civilisation and morals produced by Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment in a new set of circumstances.

Nuoriso – mainettaan parempi? (‘Youths – better than their reputation?’ 2013) was no book of current affairs; rather, it was an attempt at generational psychohistory in relation to economic conditions, a parallel work to the international debate on altruism and empathy. Its central message was that years of economic growth and broadened expectations support individualisation, the good treatment of children and empathic skills, while diminishing expectations cause people to strengthen their identification with in-groups against out-groups and leads to the emphasis of collective identity at the expense of individual identity.

Juha Siltala's Nuoriso - mainettaan parempi? ('Youths - better than their reputation?') was published in 2013. Picture: WSOY


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