My career as a researcher began as a member of the Research Group on Comparative Sociology, University of Helsinki, where I participated in the Scandinavian welfare study, led by professor Erik Allardt. Fairly soon, health became my main target of research. In my doctoral thesis Hyvinvointi ja sairauden ongelma (Well‑being and the problem of illness, 1984) I analyzed the concepts of health/illness and well‑being and made comparative analyses on socio-economic differences in morbidity in the Scandinavian countries. Since, I have carried on my studies on health concentrating in particular on the socio-economic differences in health. I have also penetrated the historical roots of socio‑medical research in Finland, and health-related life style has been my subject in some articles.
In 1976–85 and 1987–89, I worked as research assistant at the Department of Social Policy, University of Helsinki. My fields were health research, as well as research on living conditions and the development of the Finnish welfare state. Structural changes of society, changes in everyday life, and the development of the welfare state were the themes of the book Elintaso, elämäntapa, sosiaalipolitiikka (Living conditions, life styles, social policy by Karisto & Takala & Haapola, 1984). The book was fully rewritten in 1998, when it was published with the name Matkalla nykyaikaan (Towards modern times, published also in Swedish). The various editions of it have been used widely in university teaching during 25 years. For the needs of national long term planning of social security I wrote the widely discussed report Elinolojen muutossuunnat Suomessa (Trends in living conditions in Finland, 1985), where I studied changes in employment and working conditions, incomes, education, housing, health, family life, social relationships, leisure time activities, as well as values and attitudes.
In 1985–87, I worked at the Research Institute for Social Security, the Finnish Social Insurance Institution, mainly in the large evaluation project on occupational health services. I was one of the authors (largest number of pages written) of its final report called Suomalainen työterveyshuolto 1980‑luvun puolivälissä (Finnish occupational health services in the mid 1980s, Kalimo et al. 1989), and wrote minor reports and articles on the theme.
In 1989–90, I worked as research and development manager at the social services department, City of Helsinki. During these years I also participated in the scientific debate on marginalisation. In an article called Hyvinvointivaltio ja uusi palvelukulttuuri (The welfare state and the new service culture, 1990) published in the compiled work Suomi 2017 (Finland 2017). I also analyzed the new role of the public sector and the current situation in the realm of social and health services.
In 1991 I was nominated as a head of Urban Research Department, within the City of Helsinki. The department, employing more than dozen full-time researchers, mainly sociologists and economists, is doing research on various urban issues in a way that aims to be ambitious also in the academic sense. My own contribution to research on urban topics included several articles and monographs as Kirjoituksia kaupunkipeloista (Essays on Urban Fears, Karisto & Tuominen 1993), Lukioon vai ei (Going to Upper Secondary School?, Karisto & Montén, 1996) which deals urban segregation in Helsinki, and Helsinki avoin kaupunki (Helsinki An Open City; edited by Karisto & Holstila, 1992), where ten representatives of science, politics, business and cultural life wrote about their city.
Since the 1990’s I have analyzed social effects of arts and culture, including sports in several publications. One of them was the book Salpausselän kisat. Suomalainen kansanjuhla (The Salpausselkä Ski Games, Finnish Folk Festival, by Heinonen & Karisto & Laaksonen, 2005). This expertise was utilized when the town of Lahti prepared its application for the European Capital of Culture (Facing the Change – Lahti2011).
To the field of ageing studies I entered in the mid 1990’s after being nominated to professor of social policy, especially social work (1993) and then to professor of social gerontology (2002). I was leading a research project Resources in Old Age financed e.g. by the Academy of Finland in 1996–98. I edited the book on old age in urban context (Vanhuus kaupungissa, Old Age in Urban Environment, 1998), wrote several articles on Finnish baby boomers and then edited a book on that theme (Suuret ikäluokat, The Baby Boomers, 2005).
Thousands of Finnish pensioners are nowadays living in Spain during the winter time. They have been my example of new kind of pensioneering or the emerging of “third age”. This research project has produced books Suomalaiselämää Espanjassa (Finnish Life in Spain, 2000) and Satumaa. Suomalaiseläkeläiset Espanjan Aurinkorannikolla (Wonderland. Finnish Pensioners in Costa del Sol, 2008) as well as a couple of articles.
During these years, I’m concentrating to a large project Ikihyvä Päijät–Häme aka GOAL-project, where health, well-being and lifestyles of three cohorts will be surveyed and followed during the time-period of ten years. I was the main author in the first publication of this project (Ikääntyvä Päijät-Häme, Ageing Päijät-Häme, 2003) and also produced a book of life-styles of ageing people (Kotikatua, kotiruokaa, kaukomatkailua. Tutkimus ikääntyvien elämäntyyleistä, free translation: Kidney pie, Emmerdale, Holidays on the Canary Islands. A study of lifestyles among the elderly, Karisto & Konttinen 2004).
The list of my publications consists more than 300 titles: books, articles, book reviews and edited books. In addition, there is tens of editorial introductions to the publications of the Urban Research Departments and about 100 newspaper columns. As a columnist to Helsingin Sanomat, Finlands largest daily newspaper, 1988–93, I followed and commented on various social and cultural phenomena, thus expanding outside my own actual research fields. In 2004–08, I was a columnist of Etelä-Suomen Sanomat, a quality paper published in the town of Lahti.
For the students preparing their thesis, I have written a book Maukas gradu (Tasty thesis, Karisto & Seppälä 2004). In two recent publications I have tried creative writing. Taigamatka (2006) is a fictional description of a railway journey from Lahti to Vladivostok. The Finnish Broadcasting Company made a radio theatre play version of it. Hiilenmusta huivi (A charcoal colored scarf, 2008) depicts the Finnish Civil War in the Lahti region, from the point of view of a 15-year old girl).
The full list of my publications appears in my homepages, where some of them are also available as FullText-pdf.
Antti Karisto, Professor, Department of Social Policy, University of Helsinki.