State Award for Public Information 2019: Anna Kontula

1.10.2019
Anna Kontula.

Dr of social sciences, sociologist Anna Kontula for the book Eduskunta. Ystäviä ja vihamiehiä (Parliament. Friends and enemies)

Anna Kontula’s book Eduskunta. Ystäviä ja vihamiehiä is a densely written description presenting an insider’s view of what happens at the heart of Finnish democracy, in the Finnish Parliament.

The book takes ordinary citizens behind the scenes, providing access to the kind of information that is not found in the media or in documents. The book talks about the unspoken rules that dictate the work of members of parliament, the customs of the Finnish Parliament and the pecking order. It reveals clear examples of how members of parliament’s well-being, their family and their relationships are put under strain because of their work. The book covers becoming a member of parliament and staying there, the income and benefits that members of parliament gain and the importance of networks and information in decision making.

Researcher Anna Kontula has been a member of the Finnish Parliament since 2011. In the book Eduskunta. Ystäviä ja vihamiehiä, Kontula makes sociological observations in a community in which she is also a full member herself. She also interviews 16 members of parliament who talk about the pressures they experience. However, the book is not research into power, centred on conflict but a popular description of the group dynamics of parliament.

Anna Kontula has the skill to combine the professional gaze of a researcher with her work as a member of parliament. In her work, she dismantles illusions of the work of parliament being merely drinking coffee and pressing the voting button and focuses on the deeper realisation of parliamentary democracy in a workplace known as the Finnish Parliament. The book is the account of a researcher and someone with personal experience of how the small world of 200 members of parliament works and remains capable of operating.

More information in the Ministry's press release