Sunday, 03 May 2015 12:50

"True" alongside New Finns

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Because people are prisoners of their own culture, their behaviour seems right to other people that have been raised in that culture (and have adopted it).(Derek Rollinson Organisational Behavuior and Analysis …2005 s. 123)   

It is proved that there are strong correlation and interdependence between society and organizational culture and behaviour. That correlation is even stronger in collective societies such as the Finnish one, so here I’ll try to give some prime features describing the latter. 

Finland is young (in 2017 it will celebrate its 100 years independence) and in a way geographically isolated state, for which the free movement of people is relatively new and unknown thing. Quite naturally the first reactions towards those movements are resistance and fear and probably that’s one of the prime reasons for the strong performance of the populist-nationalistic Finns Party (the former True Finns), who came second in the 2015 Parliamentary elections.

Because of the historical and geopolitical reasons (about 600 years Swedish ruling, some 200 years Russian autonomy and only a hundred years of independence) it seems that the local society has been built around very strong collectivist principles, resulting in really strong social identity. According to the social identity theory, people perceive themselves in some proportion of their individual and their social identity features.

Individual identity consists of personal characteristics and abilities, such as personal look, character and personal capabilities.

In contrast social identity emphasizes on belongings to different groups and organizations. In collective societies the weight of one’s self-perception falls upon the social identity characteristics. 

Hence people have variable perception of their identity given their culture and the surrounding conditions. Of course as a social being one belongs to different groups. In that way of thoughts and for example a Police clerk who mentally perceives himself as a Finn, a family member, organizational member, European and so on, would see himself and behave differently than a Police clerk who mentally orders his personality descriptions in different way, ex. European, professional, family member a Finn or some other prime for the being or the group qualities. Quite likely the “True Finns” and their voters feel challenged by some or many of the new EU values and characteristics and try to resist them.

Naturally we like a positive self-image hence we try to choose a group that at best promotes it (Steven McShane Organizational Bahavior 2003 s. 68) and in the collective Finnish society that group tends to be “we the Finns” (for the non Finnish reader I want to mention that in the spoken Finnish is quite common that the individual speaks in 3rd person “we” about himself or actions). Collectivism means the subjugation of the individual to a group—whether to a race, class or state does not matter. Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective thought for the sake of what is called “the common good.” ( ) 

Again given some historical and geopolitical reasons the local society has developed a strong belief for collective Finnish success achieved through hard work, after getting independent. That way, following the inertia of the past it is believed that the already established way of collective social success is the best way to proceed forward.

Well I have never objected being a productive team-player, but somehow people like me, who proclaim themselves as members of a New Finnish and European generation, face the strong resistance of the established bigger group. We the New Finns are left automatically out of the “we the “true” Finns” collective identity perception and we the New Finns struggle to survive as a minority in many even given by the law regards.

The social-identity perception is a dynamic process, where “we” describe ourselves by prominent for our group and culture features, such that make us differ from people belonging to other groups. But in order to defend our positive self-image “we” often create a positive picture for our group and a more negative one about the people belonging to other groups (Steven McShane Organizational Bahavior 2003 s. 68-69). This process is called stereotyping, which in this case is a wider dimension of the social identity – a process where we believe that people possess certain features, due to their belonging to certain social group (C. Mcrea ”Social Cognition:Thinking Categorically about others” Annual review of psychology 51(2000)p93). In my study I have cited a research done among Finnish employers (2005), where they state – that the foreigners do not bring new clients or help the business development. Something like if the person “X” is a foreigner, hence does not belong to “we the Finns”, he is automatically a low quality worker, which by itself is uncritically accepted prejudice. The stereotypes are never as precise as the individual knowledge about the person. Often the stereotypes are based on prejudices, which are unfounded negative emotions towards people belonging to certain groups (Steven McShane Organizational Bahavior 2003 s. 70-71). 

Fortunately our emotions are man-made - they are a part of our personality and develop according to the conditions around us (Rosenberg, 1960). And today we live one of the biggest changes in our civilization, the Globalization – a process where the environment around us is changing rapidly and our emotions shall follow suite, for good I hope. 

This is part of a paper I wrote some 9 years ago. During that time many things regarding me, Finland and Europe have changed, some for good other not. But I hope that during that process of change we both the “True” and the New Finns have learned more about each other for the sake of the common civilized good if you wish.

Kind regards, Rosti 

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