Ari Väänänen

Visiting Professor, Sociology
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Ari Väänänen is a Visiting Professor working with Iain Wilkinson, Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research.

He is also currently Senior Researcher, FIOH, Helsinki, Finland and Adjunct Professor (Docent), University of Tampere, Finland.

Previous positions:

  • Senior Researcher (2009-2010) and Team Leader (2011-2014), Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) 
  • Researcher (1998-1999 and 2001-2005) and Specialised Researcher (2006-2008), FIOH 
  • Visiting research fellow: University of Aalborg (Denmark, 2015), Keele University (UK, 2007), University of Groningen (Netherlands, 2002 and 2006), Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada, 2002), University of Exeter (UK, 2002), University of Valencia (Spain, 1999-2001)

Ari holds a Doctor in Behavioural Sciences, University of Groningen, 2010; Doctor of Social Sciences, University of Tampere, 2005; MA, Licensed Psychologist (Psychology), University of Tampere, 1999; MSocSc in Social Psychology, University of Tampere,1997.

Research interests

Ari Väänänen’s research areas include changes in working life, the role of mental health in society, long-term health transitions in the working population, and multicultural issues in the labour market. 

Many of Ari’s studies deal with the interplay between historical circumstances, social contexts, and individuals; how the historically unique social contexts in which individuals (including professionals) are embedded (eg, work organisations, scientific discourses, health care systems) influence their tendencies of thinking and behaving, and how such choices aggregate into macro outcomes such as mental health in the population. 

Current research projects (selected) 

  • Principal Investigator of “The rise of mental vulnerability in work life” project (2013-2017). Funded by the Academy of Finland.
    Mental health problems of the working population has dramatically grown in Western countries. The historically orientated interdisciplinary project examines how this "mental vulnerability" emerged in Finland.
  • Co-Principal Investigator and Scientific Leader of the “Combo” project (2015‒2018). Funded by the European Social Fund.
    This large-scale research and development project aims to facilitate the transition of various types of youth to sustainable educational paths and work life during a critical period (16‒22 years of age). Co-leading with Dr. Auli Airila (FIOH).
  • Principal Investigator and Co-Leader of the "The Balance of Knowledge and Work Tasks in Multicultural Workplaces" project (2015–2017). Funded by the Finnish Work Environment Fund.
    This multi-method research project investigates the gaps in the job competence of employees with immigrant backgrounds and locates the various resources and abilities of these workers in Finnish labour market. Co-leading the project with Researcher Minna Toivanen (FIOH).


Ari has held various senior positions in committees, advisory boards and international scientific journals and organisations.


Ari has published more than 80 peer-reviewed scientific articles and a number of other publications. Most of his recent publications are in the domain of working life studies, work & medical sociology, ethnic studies, occupational and social epidemiology. A complete list of international publications can be found in ResearchGate

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