The consortium will analyze how Finland was influenced by wider systemic change.
How did the Finns view their changing environment and their position in it? How did they act amidst these changes, and how their position and actions were seen by others, both by the Great Powers and by neighbours, in particular the Estonians?
Our main hypothesis is that in spite of the momentous changes in Finland’s geopolitical environment, continuities in Finnish neutrality proved to be strong.
The concept of neutrality refers here to an institutionalized foreign policy identity that was established and rooted in the Cold War decades. It prioritised the power of foreign and security policy actors within the economic and political elite.
These continuities influenced integration and foreign policy all the way until the realization of EU-membership in 1995, which, in turn, proved to be a break, a decisive shift which also shifted power relations within the Finnish economic and political elite in favour of the former. On hypothetical level, it seems that a distinct break was felt strongest in Estonia, while in Russia the idea of a break dominated frrst, but with the passing of time the strength of continuities has become more evident.
The project integrates empirical, archive-based research with conceptual innovation and theory testing and building.
We seek to develop ways in which to use freshly attained evidence and research results in furthering theoretical knowledge. By using methodology of historical research and exploiting the available archive material, the change is studied as a gradual process during which different actors are making decisions in a dynamic environment, while responding to the expected future. The empirical study provides material for a critical evaluation of prevailing perceptions concerning the transformation of the political and economic institutions towards the end of the Cold War era. We strongly believe that there exists a beneficial feedback from conceptual and theoretical innovation into the simultaneous execution of the empirical work. For this link between theoretical innovation and empirical groundwork to be truly beneficial, both research directions need to be planned in a concerted way.
The working idea of ReImag is close integration and interaction.
To achieve this, the subprojects have a distinct comparative aspect. It will be helpful to compare the disintegration process of the Soviet Union (the Turku team) as seen by various official authorities with the views developed by businessmen and company directors involved in the lucrative bilateral trade (the Helsinki team), and then, further, to compare this combined Finnish view with its reception in Estonia (back to Turku).
Another example is the analysis and the theory development relating to Finnish foreign and security policy change (the Tampere team) and how this can be informed by the careful study of the changing structures and practices of the close triangular decision-making systems consisting of political, administrative and business, financial and technology elites, and their changing preferences during international systemic change (the Helsinki and Turku teams).
The analysis conducted by the Turku team on the informal channels of influence and knowledge about the changes in the Soviet Union will be connected with the analysis by the Tampere team on information creation, sharing and perceptions in foreign policy change.