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Welfare society in the time of the individual and communities

The recent Sitra Report sheds light on the future of the welfare society.


The recent Sitra Report Yksilön ääni – Hyvinvointivaltio yhteisöjen ajalla (The Voice of the individual – the welfare society in a time of communities) sheds light on the future of the welfare society. Written by researchers Roope Mokka and Aleksi Neuvonen from the Demos Helsinki think tank, the report introduces new ways of approaching the concept of well-being and welfare. According to their study, the voice of the individual will gain prominence alongside that of the state and the markets.

“Finns are quite happy with their welfare state. Yet the public debate is all about money. Surprisingly, much has changed since the welfare society emerged. This is the moment in time when we truly have the opportunity to take the welfare society to the next level. It would be such a waste if the welfare state were to become paralysed because of a shortage of its traditional resources – tax revenue and a working population. We need to identify new resources,” says researcher Roope Mokka.

We are currently witnessing the rise of a new kind of communality. The increased significance of peer groups is evident everywhere: examples range from the grass-roots level of social services, the Internet and marketing to breastfeeding and mental health support groups and new kinds of consumer movements.

This new communality is a phenomenon separate from public welfare services and representative democracy. It may be difficult for old organisations to accept and incorporate individualised forms of activity into their operations. Therefore their significance in people’s everyday lives, that is, in how people experience welfare in reality, decreases.

This is the moment of truth: do we allow the welfare state to retreat to the margins of our daily lives or do we want to guarantee individuals the opportunity to participate in producing welfare for all citizens?

The report envisages a participative society. At the core of such a society are the individual and the nurturing of civic activity. This view is human oriented.

“We hope that the state and representative democracy have the ability to renew themselves and embrace this new kind of individual activity and willingness to contribute to the common good,” says Aleksi Neuvonen, one of the authors of the report.

Further information

Roope Mokka, Researcher, Demos Helsinki
Tel. +358 44 040 0413

Aleksi Neuvonen, Researcher, Demos Helsinki
Tel. +358 50 534 4241

Antti Hautamäki, Director, Sitra
Antti Hautamäki is currently based in the United States and can best be reached by e-mail

Publication details

Yksilön ääni – Hyvinvointivaltio yhteisöjen ajalla (The Voice of the individual – the welfare society in a time of communities).
Roope Mokka and Aleksi Neuvonen.
Sitra Reports 69. Sitra. Helsinki, 2006.
ISBN 951-563-543-8 (paperback), ISSN 1457-571X (paperback).

Download report (pdf, in Finnish) »
You may also order the report from Sitra, tel. +358 (9) 618 991, e-mail: