Young People’s Leisure Activities and Youth Work in Finland Research Program 2008-2010

The three-year research program, Young People’s Leisure Activities and Youth Work in Finland was launched at the beginning of 2008. This program aims to produce a multifaceted analysis of the features, meanings and practices of young people’s leisure activities in the contemporary Finnish society.

The program will produce new empirical information about the challenges that young people’s leisure activities pose for youth work and youth policy. In addition, the program will generate methodological and ethical reflections on challenges related to the study of young people’s leisure time.

This is a multi-disciplinary research program, making use of various data sources and methods. Individual studies included in this program approach young people’s leisure activities from a variety of perspectives, involving both formally organized activities and young people’s informal and/or independent activities.

The program focuses on the role of leisure in defining young people’s well-being and in preventing marginalization, as well as the potential role of leisure as a tool for intervening in diverse problem situations that young people may face in their everyday life. Key research questions include:

  • What is the significance of leisure from the perspectives of young people’s career formation, growing to adulthood, learning and societal bonding vs. exclusion?
  • How are young people’s relationships with friends and peer groups constructed in leisure arenas (both physical and virtual)?
  • What is the significance and value of youth work from the perspective of young people’s social networks, youth cultures, communality and friendships?
  • How can organized leisure activities for young people be assessed in terms of young people’s own needs and desires?
  • How is young people’s leisure time defined in youth policy strategy work involving cooperation between various administrative sectors?


  • Young people’s leisure, social relationships and life style. SocSciD, docent Tarja Tolonen
  • A statistical analysis of young societal drop-outs’ life situation. MSSc. Laura Kestilä.
  • The role of youth work in the child and youth policy processes. SocSciD Mirja Määttä.
  • Commercial interests and youth work in virtual communities. MEd Jani Merikivi.

Cooperative projects:

  • Possible and probable futures? Disadvantaged young people’s transitions to adulthood. SocSciD Sanna Aaltonen.
  • The effectiveness of municipal youth work, from young people’s perspective. PhD Anu Gretschel.
  • Separate or joint-operations? – Multiculturalism and gender equality in youth work. MA Veronika Honkasalo.
  • Sports clubs in transition. Pasi Koski.
  • Culture as Support for Young People’s Welfare – research project, 2008-2011. PhD, docent Sirkku Kotilainen.  
  • Active young citizenships in transnational political processes: a comparative study of an EU youth policy meeting and a World Social Forum. MSSc. Sofia Laine.

This research program is a continuation of the Identities of Youth Work and Civic Action – research program (2005-2007), in which youth work was investigated especially from a professional and methodological perspective.