1. FERG: Fifth Estate Research Group
  2. Stochastic dynamics on large random graphs
  3. SOMEA: Social Media Analysis Group
  4. Language practices on social media
  5. Populism as movement and rhetoric
  6. Social media in crisis situations


1. FERG: Fifth Estate Research Group

From June 2011 to May 2012 research project The Fifth Estate: Case Finland “Ad hoc groups in Finnish Facebook” was carried out by a research group from the Department of Communications in cooperation with the Department of History and Ethnology and William H. Dutton from the Oxford Internet Institute (currently at Michigan State University) with the support of the Faculty of Humanities. The aim of the study was to test some ideas of the Fifth Estate concept, investigating Facebook’s (FB) role in the Finnish news ecosystem and social movements.  Read more from: Fifth Estate – Case Finland 2011-2012 project presentation

During 2013-2015 the interdisciplinary project has continued active research around social media, communicative power formation and the Fifth Estate concept. In addition, the group has worked on developing the Social Media Research Institute –SOMERI with support from the Faculty of Humanities.


  • Turo Uskali, Niina Niskala & Epp Lauk. (2014). “Facebook’s ad hoc groups in Finland: the effects of the fifth estate”, In Tereza Pavlicková & Irena Reifová (Eds.) Media, power and empowerment : Central and Eastern European communication and media conference CEECOM Prague 2012. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  • Niina Sormanen, Jukka Rohila, Epp Lauk, Turo Uskali, Jukka Jouhki & Maija Penttinen. (2015). “Chances and challenges of computational data gathering and analysis: The case of issue-attention cycles on Facebook”. Special Issue of Digital Journalism, Published online 29 Oct 2015, doi: 10.1080/21670811.2015.1096614
  • Niina Sormanen & William H. Dutton. (2015). “The role of social media in societal change: Cases in Finland of fifth estate activity on Facebook”. Social Media + Society, Published online November 5, 2015, doi: 10.1177/2056305115612782

Article projects in progress:

  • Jukka  Jouhki, Epp  Lauk,  Maija  Penttinen,  Niina  Sormanen  &  Turo  Uskali. ”Social media personhood as a challenge to research ethics”
  • Niina Sormanen, Turo Uskali, Epp Lauk & Maija Pentiinen. ”Fifth estate as a new societal agenda setter? Facebook ad hoc groups’ ambitions and communicative behavior in Finland”

Research group:
Epp Lauk (professor of journalism, head of the Department of Communication)
Turo Uskali (university researcher in journalism)
Jukka Jouhki (university researcher in ethnology)
Niina Sormanen (Ph.D. student in organizational communication and PR)
Taneli Heikka (Ph.D. student in journalism)
Maija Penttinen (master student in ethnology)
Jukka Rohila (independent IT-consultant)


2. Stochastic dynamics on large random graphs

Research project funded by Emil Aaltonen Foundation 2013–2016

Stochastic processes on random graphs are mathematical models for real-world systems where interactions between nodes (e.g. human individuals, computer units) are governed by a network structure (e.g. a social network, the Internet). Such models are often impossible to analyze by direct numerical computations, due to highly irregular network structure, uncoordinated behavior of the nodes, and randomly varying environmental effects. Despite vast research literature on the structure of random graphs, mathematical results on stochastic processes on random graphs are still rather scarce, and mostly restricted to unrealistic graph models with weak clustering and light-tailed degree distributions. Likewise, results on stochastic processes in random environments are mostly restricted to simple random walks on regular lattices.

This project aims to quantify how strong clustering, heavy-tailed degree distributions, and random environmental features affect the dynamics of random walks, queueing networks, and more general population processes on realistic graph models. This shall be done by analyzing new graph models based on stochastic geometry, and by developing new time-scale separation inequalities using convex and supermodular stochastic orders. Other key research methods include stochastic coupling theory, Palm calculus, Hardy–Littlewood maximal functions, Lyapunov functions, and regular variation theory.

The project’s results will help to evaluate the effect of realistic graph features on the dynamics of key stochastic processes encountered in our society: random walks are used to rank web pages, queueing networks to analyze traffic flows in data networks, and contact processes to model the spread of information in social networks and distributed computing. These results may have far-reaching implications in the development of fast search engines for the Internet, efficient transmission protocols for wireless data networks, and scalable distributed algorithms for large data sets.

Research team:

Principal investigator: Lasse Leskelä
Doctoral students: Pekka Aalto and Mikko Kuronen

More information:


3. SOMEA: Social Media Analysis Group

The SOMEA research group has been established recently. It will concentrate on analysis of real online social networks. The current main activity is to develop computerized data gathering and analysis tools. The analysis of the data gathered from real social media sites, such as Vkontakte, Twitter, Youtube, Livejournal, or Facebook is also underway. The goal is the to gather longitudinal data, so that the development of various interesting phenomena can be captured. The research is intented to be multidiscpilinary, meaning that the multimedia data gathered is analysed using methods of different sciences, such as mathematical modeling, sociology, psychlogy, linquistics, and computer science. The latter would provide software-based tools for the other disciplines. Developing the tools and algorithms for other fields is a tough computer science and software engineering challenge as such.

Primary research directions:

1) Modeling social media; primarily graph theory and dynamic networks
2) Social media monitoring software construction
3) Online social media analysis using computerized tools and multidisciplinary approaches
4) Mobile community building in developing countries
5) Hate groups and communities behavior research


Jari Veijalainen (Professor, Dr.-Ing.)
Jorma Kyppö (Researcher)
Alexander Semenov (Doctoral student)
Bakia Holmes Bisong (Master student)
Waseem Rehmat (Master student)

More information:


4. Language practices on social media
“Language and Superdiversity: (Dis)identification in Social Media” is a project funded by the Academy of Finland (2012-2016).

We investigate the ways in which resources provided by languages and discourses are used by individuals and groups in superdiverse social media. We are interested in how the resources are used for public and social action and interaction, knowledge construction and cultural production; for the collaborative creation, negotiation and appropriation of a participatory social and cultural reality off- and online.

Social media here refers to a range of social media spaces, including for example gaming, blogging, Facebook, YouTube, discussion forums, IRC (Internet Relay Chat), fan fiction and websites by social groups representing different ages, ethnicities, nationalities and (sub)cultures.

Within the framework provided primarily by discourse studies, sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology and cultural studies, it aims to contribute to the retheorization of social media as important sites for achieving visibility, identity and voice as well as for gaining agency, citizenship and competences needed in complex late modern societies to describe and explain language and discourse practices in everyday and institutional social media contexts.

Research team:

Sirpa Leppänen
Samu Kytölä
Henna Jousmäki
Saija Peuronen
Elina Westinen
Mia Halonen

More information:


5. Populismi liikkeenä ja retoriikkana (SA, 2013-2016)

Yhteiskunnan nopeat muutokset, monikulttuurisuuden haasteet, sosiaalinen epätasa-arvo ja erilaisten uhkakuvien leviäminen median kautta yleiseen tietoisuuteen ovat Suomessa, kuten muuallakin Euroopassa, synnyttäneet populistisia protestiliikkeitä ja vetoamista kulttuuriarvoihin joissa yleensä yhdistyvät antielitismi ja maahanmuuttovastaisuus kansallisesti ja paikallisesti perusteltuihin sosiaalisen oikeudenmukaisuuden vaatimuksiin. Tämä tutkimushanke keskittyy suomalaiseen populismiin ja sen retoriikkaan. Päähuomio on painettujen ja verkkotekstien analyysissä ja aineistot kerätään Internetin keskustelufoorumeilta, blogeista, sanomalehdistä ja poliittisista ohjelmista. Hanke tarkastelee populismia monilähteisenä ja moniagendaisena ilmiönä. Siinä tutkitaan intersektionaalisesti kansallisuuden, eurooppalaisuuden, etnisyyden, sukupuolen ja ympäristökysymysten artikulaatioita niin että taustalla on ”uusi julkisuus” ja yksityisen ja julkisen rajojen siirtyminen.

Vastuullinen tutkija: Urpo Kovala (Nykykulttuurin tutkimuskeskus, Taiteiden ja kulttuurin tutkimuksen laitos, Jyväskylän yliopisto).

Populism as movement and rhetoric (Academy of Finland, 2013-2016)

In Finland as elsewhere in Europe, rapid social change, multicultural challenges, social inequality, and the way different kinds of threat are disseminated by the media for public imagination, have given rise to populist protests and appeals to cultural values usually combining anti-elite and anti-immigrant nationalism with nationally and locally bounded demands of social justice. This project is focused on the populist movement and populist rhetoric in Finland. The main emphasis is on the analysis of textual documents on the Internet and in print, including discussion forums, blogs, newspaper articles, and political programs. Populism is studied as a phenomenon with multiple sources and multiple agendas. Issues of nationality, Europeanness, ethnicity, gender, and environmental issues are studied in their Finnish articulations in an intersectional manner by five researchers, against the backdrop of the new public sphere and the intermingling of the private and the public in it.

Project leader: Urpo Kovala (Research Center for Contemporary Culture, Department of Art and Culture Studies, University of Jyväskylä).

Members of the research group and their sub projects:

Urpo Kovala; Populist discourse as cultural dialogue
Emilia Palonen; Logic of cultural populism in contemporary politics: the case of Finland
Erkki Vainikkala; From reasoned resentment to abusive empowerment – forms of Finnish populist discourse
Tuija Saresma; Intersections of gender, class, race, and sexuality in male activist texts.
Tuuli Lähdesmäki; Meanings of Europeanness and Finnishness in Finnish nationalist and pro-European discourses.

More information:


6. Social media in crisis situations

Crisis Communication is a research area of the Department of Communication in cooperation with Agora Center with two EU-funded collaborative projects running. CATO (CBRN crisis management: Architecture, Technologies and Operational Procedures) contributes to preparedness for more threatening crises due to terrorist attacks using non-conventional weapons on facilities with chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials by, for example, providing communication guidelines for such scenarios. PEP (Public Empowerment Policies for Crisis Management) investigates how the crisis response abilities of the public can be enhanced and what public empowerment policies are successful in realising this aim.

The role of social media in crisis communication is manifold including e.g. providing preparedness information, issuing emergency warnings and alerts, crowdsourcing, supporting recovery efforts, creating situational awareness and detecting public perceptions, sentiments and information needs through real-time monitoring. Both authorities and citizens alike benefit of using it. In the project CATO, we aim at building a social media analysis and strategy model for the use of authorities in crisis situations. The purpose of the model is to provide advice on decision-making for communication strategies based on social media monitoring results. In the project PEP, the focus is on identifying best practices in and future directions for a community approach to crisis resilience, including the use of social media and mobile services, to further citizen response.

Primary investigator: Professor Marita Vos Ph.D.
Project researchers for CATO: Aino Ruggiero MA and Anne Laajalahti MA
Project researchers for PEP: Jenni Hyvärinen MA and Anne Laajalahti MA

Crisis communication research:
CATO project:
PEP project:

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