Postdoctoral Researcher and Lecturer
Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge, New York University
- social theory
- relational sociology
- personal relationships, family, intimacy
- webs of belonging and community
- social and sociological categorizations
- qualitative and relational analysis
I work as Post-Doctoral Researcher in Sociology at the Department of Social Research.
For the past three years after finishing my doctorate, I’ve been studying how personal lives are intertwined with wider configurations of belonging with families, friends and other intimates, and how structural aspects and agency together contribute to the unfolding of the ways in which people are related to others. I have written papers on family relations, intimacy and the relational organization of close relationships; and theoretical and methodological work on sociological categories, relationality and belonging. The realization of how fragmented and differentiated the settings for many people’s significant relations and safety nets were, got me interested in studying localities as settings for significant bonds. Some neighborhoods make strong claims about being communities where people help each other out, but how much is there dense local bonds and how deep are they. Who do people help out and how? What are the routes to forming bonds and communal goods in these neighborhoods with strong community -claims. Who can and who cannot belong? Does local belonging protect people in vulnerable phases of their lives?
My current research project is about Local Bonds and Boundaries of Belonging in Communal City Blocks of Helsinki, NYC Brooklyn and Madrid. It is part of the Vulnerable Lives – research project (2012-2016) consisting of Professor Marja-Liisa Honkasalo, Dr. Anna Leppo and myself and is funded the Academy of Finland. The wider project investigates life vulnerabilities, ambiguous agency and contemporary ”cures” for the vulnerable. I am doing fieldwork in all three places. The study is also part of a cross-cultural research project studying the everyday life and belonging in communal city blocks of Helsinki and Madrid. I’m am the principal investigator at the fields in Helsinki and Brooklyn, but my research partner Professor Victoria Gomez (Universidad de Carlos III de Madrid) is the PI in Madrid. The study is cross-cultural, rather than strictly comparative, each field contributing to the understanding how similar community rhetoric is acted out differently in these three localities which are culturally, socially and historically different. One interesting axis is the different way in which people’s lives, informal community practices and the role of the state are interconnected. In Finland the generous welfare benefits have enabled more individualized lives and less dependency on people around you as in Spain for instance, and in the US which is individualistic, but where being dependent on the state is culturally shunned. Studying these different places in depth we hope to find out how our local lives and belonging are shaped by us and those around us, definitely, but also by wider social, material and cultural factors that we often forget about.
While starting fieldwork, I am also finishing up several papers: ’The dilemma of the Capable Agent” (Ketokivi, K. & Meskus, M., first version presented at ASA in Denver, 2012), ’A Figurational Approach for Studying Personal Relationships’ (Castrén, A-M & Ketokivi, K, in the review process), ’Estranged Family Relationships and the Social Dynamics of Family’ (in the review process), ’Rethinking Relationality for Sociology’ (Ketokivi, K & Roseneil, S, in progress, presented at BSA in April 2012), ’The Relational Self, Bonding and Individuality’ (working paper), ”Belonging’ as a Way of Rephrasing the Social/Individual – Divide” (working paper) and ’Sidoksen kysymys sosiologisessa ajattelussa’ (working paper, in English: The question of the social bond in sociological thinking). See the list of my existing publications here.
I organize and chair the Sociology Research Seminar for the faculty and staff of the Department where new research is presented and general sociological discussion across different paradigms promoted. If you’re visiting our department, please, feel free to contact me! With Prof. Petri Ylikoski we also organize a Cross-Sociological seminar where faculty, staff and graduate student present other work that has intrigued them.
At the Institute for Public Knowledge, New York University where I am a Fellow, I organize a Working Group ’Belonging Today’, that brings together social scientific discussion across different thematic interests, methods and theoretical angles, examining the ways, forms and tensions of belonging today. The group meets in workshops twice a year and organized public panels and conversations on belonging.
I teach Master’s students on the topics of Sociological Concepts — Historical and Critical Perspectives and advise five Master’s theses and one doctoral thesis in my areas of expertise.
I am a member of the editorial board of Sosiologia, the journal of The Westermarck Society, the sociological association of Finland. Outside university I write research-based popular articles and columns for wider audiences and train professionals and volunteer workers (in health care and social services among others).
My doctoral dissertation The Relational Self, the Social Bond and the Dynamics of Personal Relationships. A Sociological Analysis (2010, Fulltext pdf) was published by the Department of Social Research and can be purchased from me or the sociology office.