Acknowledging and saying thanks

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The editorial has been published in Sosiologia 4/2019.

Riikka Homanen and Marianne Mäkelin 

Editing a journal is a collaborative project and the end results draw on a diversity of voices. These voices include not just the voices of the authors of articles, lectures, discussion pieces and book reviews published in the journal but also the voices of other important people involved in the peer-review and editing process at all its different stages. Their perspectives and intentions reframe the manuscripts, allowing new observations, commentaries, viewpoints and theories to be included. This current issue will be the last one of our editorial term, and we would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge all the people that have made volumes 55–56 of Sosiologia possible and to say thanks. 

While acknowledgements are surely not the primary technique through which people and their input are written in or out of academic work, like perhaps citations, they are not redundant either. Acknowledgement is about recognition: giving someone the status of a peer. Here we refer to Nancy Fraser’s (2007; 2013) alternative feminist politics of recognition in which recognition is not just about identity politics but a question of social status. What requires recognition is not identity but status of people as partners, participating on a par with others. Institutional status orders and culturally defined hierarchies of status affect this work of recognition, constituting some people as inferior, excluded, wholly other, or simply invisible. Feminist politics of recognition applies to gender as well as to other axes of historical subordination, including age, “race”, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality and religion.  

Acknowledgements provide one location from which to identify hierarchies and exclusions in our profession. Emily Callaci (2019) argues that acknowledgements tell us that the kind of people who are best served by our institutions, resources, and work culture have few dependents and can easily leave their communities for stretches of time travelling effortlessly across national borders. Acknowledgements also often reveal spouses or partners who can be relied on for their uncompensated reproductive labour in rearing and caring for the children – if there are any – and whose own lives can sometimes be put on hold to enable both a family and a successful academic career for the scholar. This is true to an extent even in large redistributive welfare states of the Nordic type. The ideal scholar that emerges is self-contained, mobile and flexible, and not likely themselves providing care for (extended) family. Callaci concludes with an important question that also us sociologists should ask ourselves: “What do we lose, in terms of perspectives, intellectual contributions, and creativity, if this is predominately the only kind of person that are allowed [to prosper] in academia?”  

To revitalize our discipline we should acknowledge (sic) the need to include more kinds of lives in our community and invest in it. Using Fraser’s (2007; 2013) terms, both redistributive justice – equality in terms of resources – and justice in recognition – equality in terms of respect and equal opportunity for social esteem – is required from those investments. Claims for redistribution and for recognition cannot be insulated from each other.  

Our point here is not to downplay writing righteous, generous and genuine acknowledgements but to remind the reader about the underlying world of inequality that acknowledgements (also) reflect. We set on a path of promoting feminist sociology and its academic contribution to sociological teaching, research and theory building almost two years ago at the start of our editorial term. Consider this as the final quest of our editorial term to make the work of feminist sociology more visible and call for more valuation for feminist sociology that produces critical social theory whose central task is ”self-clarification of struggles and wishes of the age”, as Nancy Fraser quotes Marx in her book Fortunes of Feminism (2013). Acknowledgements echo one such struggle of our times: struggles of gendered, racialized, classed and sexual Others to participate as equals in the academic life. 

Acknowledgements are of course also about telling one had help. And during the editorial term of 2018–2019, we were lucky to have plenty. We want to acknowledge and recognize everyone as partners in the making of Sosiologia

During the editorial term of 2018–2019 altogether, 32 excellent peer-reviewed articles, 50 book reviews and one lecture were published in 8 issues of Sosiologia. A total of 118 authors contributed to the journal over the past two years, including article, book review and lecture authors. The articles were authored by 65 authors, of which 69 per cent are assumed women and 41 per cent assumed men according to name. The book reviews, in turn, were authored by 51 authors, of which 54 per cent were assumed women and 46 men. One lecture was published during 2018–2019 and it was authored by a person who is assumed to be a woman by gender. Sixty-nine per cent of the authors had a doctoral degree, and without the exception of one bachelor’s student, the rest held a master’s degree. Almost one fifth (19 per cent) of the authors were professors.  

The legacy of our predecessors, Olli Pyyhtinen and Outi Koskinen, is visible in the distribution of authors’ organizations: 30 per cent of the authors were affiliated to Tampere University (up from 21 per cent). The University of Helsinki, that has held the top number for organizational affiliation for quite some time, came second with 20 per cent of the authors (down from 33 per cent) affiliated with it. The University of Jyväskylä was the home university to 15 per cent of the authors (up from 6 per cent), and the University of Turku hosted 11 per cent of the authors (down from 10 per cent). Other Finnish universities (0,5–5 per cent) included the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Lapland, Aalto University and the University of Vaasa. Finally, three per cent of the authors were affiliated with foreign universities, and 10 per cent with other institutions. 

The quality of the publications in Sosiologia during our editorial term did not go unnoticed: Hanna-Mari Ikonen was nominated for the Kone Foundation Vuoden Tiedekynä Academic Writing Award for her article “’Sitä palkintoo ei ehkä koskaan tule”: Toimijuuden tunnustus ja maaseudun naisyrittäjät” [“’You Might Never Get the Prize’: Recognition of Agency and Rural Women Entrepreneurs] (Sosiologia 1/2018) and Lina van Aerschot and Jarkko Salminen won the Finnish Society for Urban Studies’ Vuoden Kaupunkikirjoitus Academic Writing Award for their article “Hyvä, paha lähiö – nuoret ja asuinalueella syntyvä sosiaalinen pääoma” [“The Good, Bad Suburb – Young People and Social Capital in a Neighbourhood”] (Sosiologia 3/2018). 

We would like to thank all our authors who have made this journal possible in the most literal meaning of the word. Thank you for submitting such intellectually brilliant work to be published in Sosiologia! As mentioned in the beginning of this editorial, publishing a manuscript, however, involves a multitude of actors beyond the original author(s). The members of the Sosiologia editorial board need to be acknowledged for their very hard work and commitment in peer-reviewing high numbers of manuscripts annually. It is thanks to members of the board that we enjoy the status of a top-quality academic journal! 

We decided to follow the example set by our predecessors’ editorial decision to use a greater number of external reviewers to ease the workload of the editorial board and to make sure we had an expert reviewer for all the manuscripts. During 2018–2019, the external reviewers included (in alphabetical order): Anu-Hanna Anttila, Ilkka Arminen, Lotta Haikkola, Hannele Harjunen, Lotta Hautamäki, Ville-Samuli Haverinen, Mika Helander, Johanna Hiitola, Matti Hyvärinen, Hanna-Mari Ikonen, Eeva Jokinen, Saara Koikkalainen, Anitta Kynsilehto, Tuomo Laihiala, Minna Nikunen, Lena Näre, Henri Onodera, Saara Pellander, Henna Pirskanen, Eeva Puumala, Olli Pyyhtinen, Ville Savolainen, Eija Sevón, Karoliina Snell, Tiina Sotkasiira, Melisa Stevanovic, Heta Tarkkala, Marja Tiilikainen, Sinikka Torkkola, Salla Tuomivaara, Marja Vehviläinen, Pia Vuolanto and Minna Zechner. Thank you to each one of you for your superb expertise and contribution!

A special thank you goes to a group of people who read through and commented on our editorials. They found time in their busy schedules often a night before the deadline for the journal to go to graphic-layout – which has always been done beautifully by our graphic designer Otto Donner. This commentator bunch includes Anu-Hanna Anttila, Johanna Hiitola, Merja Kinnunen, Marjo Kolehmainen, Eeva Luhtakallio, Mianna Meskus and Elina Oinas. Thank you for making time, for your insight and friendship! We must also express our gratitude to our immediate predecessors, editor-in-chief Olli Pyyhtinen and managing editor Outi Koskinen, as well as some other earlier predecessors, editors-in-chief Anu-Hanna Anttila, Merja Kinnunen and Eeva Luhtakallio, who have tirelessly been available for any questions and concerns we have had. We are very grateful, for without your help, especially at the beginning, our editorial journey would have been much more of a rocky road than it was.

Sosiologia still reaches a relatively wide readership: the number of subscriptions is roughly 1000. Unfortunately, subscriptions have been falling for some years. The reasons behind this are manifold, but the common trend everywhere seems to be that readers prefer the digital form. Indeed, the number of downloads of Sosiologia’s articles from the electronic Elektra database has been growing: in 2018 the journal articles were downloaded 9030 times which roughly corresponds with earlier years (in comparison, in 2010 the number of downloads was 5800). Sosiologia has also had more visibility on the Internet as we moved the blog posts based on published articles to Ilmiö (ilmiomedia.fi), the popular sociological webzine, edited by Lotta Haikkola and Veera Adolfsen, and like Sosiologia, published by the Westermarck Society. At best blog posts in Ilmiö have up to 8700 views, and on average about a thousand readers. Thank you to all our readers! Without you, making a journal would be utterly pointless. 

Decreasing subscriptions are, nevertheless, a challenge especially to small national non-profit publishers (read, academic associations) who rely on subscriptions/membership fees. There are, then, still obstacles that need to be overcome before an Open Access model can be adopted. Gladly, the Federation of Finnish learned Societies (TSV) and the National Library of Finland are looking into alternative funding possibilities before open access becomes the condition for state support for academic associations.  

We, hence, leave Sosiologia with confidence about its future in the capable hands of Janne Autto and Maiju Saarreharju at the University of Lapland for the editorial term of 2020–2021. May your editorial journey be as memorable and fulfilling as ours has been! 

* * * 

The issue at hand is the fourth English issue of Sosiologia. Like the first ever English issue 4/2015 launched and edited by Eeva Luhtakallio and Tuukka Ylä-Anttila, this issue could be described as a special issue on Finnish society. The four articles in the issue explore the dynamics of Muslim women’s veiling-practices, beekeeping expertise as situated knowing, evaluations of criminal responsibility in the case of offenders with mental illness, and experiences of sustainability among producers in an alternative food network in Finland. All the phenomena under scrutiny in the articles are not specific to Finland, but the Finnish context gives them a specific slant.  

Anna-Mari Almila’s and David Inglis’ article on Muslim women’s veiling practices is specifically concerned with the dynamics of passing veiling garments on as gifts from one woman to another, or from a group of women to a recipient. Drawing on ethnographic material, the authors show how forms of politics are involved in the gifting but the gifting of veils also creates, maintains and repairs intimate social relations. While veiling garments are widely understood to be in various ways problems, when such objects are gifted by women to each other, they may also be experienced and narrated as solutions to socially-shaped challenges, affording transitions towards more manageable social situations.  

In her article on beekeeping expertise Pieta Hyvärinen coins the concept of multispecies livelihoods to describe the precarious conditions needed to be known and maintained to keep bee colonies alive and thriving. The conditions in which beekeeping expertise is developed and enacted are precarious due to close entanglements with ultimately unintelligible non-human others and their changing habitats. Using ethnographic and interview data collected among urban beekeepers in Finland, Hyvärinen shows how beekeeping expertise entails ways of knowing that are local, relational, practical, and open to changes and even surprises, recognising the incompleteness of knowledge as well as the unprecedented agency of non-human others. Such situated knowing enables beekeepers to acknowledge and act upon the complex interdependencies of multispecies livelihoods in changing socio-ecological conditions. 

The ways offences made by people diagnosed with mental illness are evaluated as not criminally responsible are socially situated in Finland. This is the claim Miisa Törölä makes in her article. She uses a data from mental state examination reports and records of psychiatric hospital treatment and criminal sanctions to examine the categorization of offences by situational features and to compare sources of informal and formal social control. Through latent class analysis Törölä identifies three classes of offence: family-related, peer group-related, and property-centred or non-premeditated offences. Multinomial logistic regression and average marginal effects analyses were also performed to identify differences in social control by class.  

Maria Ehrnström-Fuentes, Mikko Jauho and Piia Jallinoja explore a recent innovation in Finland, REKO food rings, which is an alternative food network that attempts to increase the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the food system. The authors analysed perceptions and experiences of sustainability among REKO producers using thematic interviews and questionnaire data. The results show that the expectations for increased sustainability are high, but the producers nevertheless face multiple challenges to ensure sustainability. The findings point to the variations and dynamics of the experiences and perceptions that exist across locations and product segments.  

References 

Nancy Fraser (2007) Feminist Politics in the Age of Recognition: A Two-Dimensional Approach to Gender Justice. Studies in Social Justice 1: 1, 23-35. 

Nancy Fraser (2013) Fortunes of Feminism. From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis. London and New York: Verso. 

Emily Callaci (2019) On Acknowledgements. American Historical Review. February 2020, 1-6.