The essays of this collection are written and visualized by researchers and artists of the Digital Youth in the Media City (DiMe) project. The purpose here is to bring forth topics of the project and to inspire new readers to explore in-depth texts, visuals and sounds that hail from research. We have created a multisensory piece where you as a reader are able to explore essays on youth subcultural phenomena in Helsinki and St. Petersburg, get acquainted with urban phenomena, enjoy visuals in the form of photographs and listen to urban soundscapes.
The idea to study youth, media and the city came about in one unofficial meeting of a group of sociologists, youth researchers and media scholars who liked to hang out together in Helsinki. Some of us knew colleagues in St. Petersburg who might be interested in joining us – and so they did.
We all agreed that despite the widespread use of digital media technology, there was still surprisingly little research on young people’s mundane engagements in today’s’ digital media cities, particularly with regard to the shaping and reshaping of urban youth cultures. One key aim of the DiMe project is to begin to fill this gap.
Our DiMe team includes scholars from three universities and the Finnish Youth Research Society in Helsinki. Johanna Sumiala is a media scholar from the University of Helsinki. Leena Suurpää and Päivi Honkatukia are sociologists and youth researchers who have conducted pioneering research affiliated with a variety of institutions in Finland, including the University of Tampere and the Finnish Youth Research Society. Johanna, Leena and Päivi co-direct the project.
Also, the researchers in the project represent various fields and institutions: Heta Mulari (cultural analyst and historian) and Arseniy Svynarenko (sociologist) work at the Finnish Youth Research Society, and Malin Fransberg (sociologist) represents the University of Tampere. Research assistant Annaliina Niitamo (University of Helsinki) has a background in media and urban studies. Olli Haanpää participated in fieldwork as part of his internship at the Finnish Youth Research Society.
Researchers from The St. Petersburg Higher School of Economics include sociologists Yana Krupets, Nadezhda Vasileva, Anastasia Sablina and Margarita Kuleva. The Russian team also consists of senior scholars such as Elena Omelchenko and Guzel Sabirova who have given valuable insights during the three-year academic journey we have shared together. We thank Elena and Guzel for their contribution.
From the very beginning of the project, our transdisciplinary team saw that it was important to communicate our research findings not only to an international academic community, but to a broader public as well. In DiMe we believe that communicating research is an ethical act. This essay collection continues this thought. Research is not only about new knowledge but about creating space for broader societal and cultural discussion and encounters with broader publics. Research should inspire and stir up thoughts about our society and the world that may not always go along the lines of what we are used to.
This said, research on the city, media and youth should not only limit itself to the written words. The photographs for this project and this essay collection were created by the photographer and anthropologist Patrik Rastenberger, and urban soundscapes were created by sound researcher and artist Taina Riikonen. Without the audio-visual stimuli our experience of youth lives in the media city would be so much poorer.
No scholarly or artistic effort is possible without financial and intellectual support and material resources. We wish to thank the Kone Foundation for making this project possible. The visual design and layout for the essay collection were produced by Kaskas Media, and we want to thank them for their insight, enthusiasm and encouragement during the process. We thank Maria Lyytinen for proof reading these essays.
We also wish to thank all those young people in Helsinki and St. Petersburg who have explored the media city with us as our local guides, informants and co-researchers. The city of Helsinki, The Helsinki Art Museum, HAM, as well as the Street Art Museum of St. Petersburg have provided valuable support. Last but not least, we want to thank our colleagues in our home universities, institutions and research centers, as well as all those academics and artists in seminars, workshops and conferences who have commented on and encouraged us to think of our project in new ways.
Published in Helsinki, January 2019
Editors: Johanna Sumiala & Annaliina Niitamo
Visual design and illustrations: Kaskas Media
Photos: Patrik Rastenberger
Publisher: Youth Research Society / Youth Research Network
Funding from Kone Foundation