Miia Rantala

Miia Rantala

  • University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland (& University of Tampere, Vitro)
  • Faculty of Art and Design (media) (& Doctoral school of communication studies, University of Tampere, Vitro)
Participant in 2013

Phd Projects


Representations of Finnishness in TV advertisements

I am analysing the representations of Finnishness intersecting with e.g. race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and social class in television advertisements shown prime-time in mainstream television channels in Finland in 2010. I am analysing the advertisements by using content analysis and critical close reading. I have narrowed down the total data of 1800 ads to about 900 ads which concern only about Finnishness. The main research questions at the moment are: how TV advertisements produce, renew, and construct the meanings of nationality and especially Finnishness intersecting with e.g. race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, social class, age? I am interested to analyse how Finnishness is socially constructed in TV advertisements: who is included and who is not, what kind of Finnishness TV advertisements produce, how Finnishness is signified, and what kind of cultural meanings are connected to Finnishness. This research is multidiciplinary, but the standpoint is in feminist and postcolonial media cultural studies and critical race studies. The representations have changed since 2004 when I analysed 400 ads in masters thesis. In 2004 the non-white protagonists were represented stereotypically according to colonial imagery and not belonging into Finnishness. White protagonists were represented normatively and positively. Finnishness was represented as white and western but partly there was a strong self-irony especially in representations of men. In 2010 the representations of non-white protagonists have decreased generally. The Finnishness is represented more normatively, self-irony has disappeared and there is a very strong nationalistic discourse but also a multicultural discourse. The idea of one white (middle class) people is strong in Finland as well as among the other Nordic countries. Finland has a short history in immigration even that there has been different kinds of ethnical groups for hundreds of years and indigenous people sami. The new and massive wave of immigration started in the beginning of 1990s and these ‘new minorities’ differed from the earlier population mostly by their skin colour. The criticism over multicultural politics has increased during recent years due to the financial crisis and the increased populism in Finland. The populists worry that multiculturalism is endangering the ‘original and hegemonic Finnish culture’ not even remembering the strong political dichotomy and Othering among ‘white’ Finns. After the parliamentary election and the rise of party called ‘True Finns’ in April 2011, hate speech and open racism has increased toward immigrants and especially towards non-whites, Muslims, homosexuals, and even traditional ethnic minorities, for example Finn-Swedes.

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