Urban ethnographic discoveries on the streets and stations in Helsinki and Saint Petersburg

Research questions

The project produces new knowledge on how digital technologies are present in urban lives of young generations. What opportunities and restrictions do digital technologies bring to the lives of young people in a media city? How should we understand participation and belonging of young people in the media city? How surveillance and control are present in the metro?

Execution of research

There are two parallel strategies in carrying out the research project. Firstly, the project has a multi-method approach to urban metro ethnography. The research team members carryout the research either individually, or in small teams and together with the subjects of the research, the young people. Secondly, the research project carries out eight case studies that shed light on different aspects of the media city in a multidisciplinary manner. The project looks at everyday uses of the metro were various youth culture phenomena are particularly saturated, at  institutional and experiential aspects of participation of youth in urban planning. Fieldwork takes place in Helsinki and St. Petersburg. The case studies are connected through the following key concepts: media city, spatial entitlement, social control, surveillance, urban sociability, locality and belonging.

Three main themes guide the project’s practical research work:

  • Everyday metro experiences, metro life and metro sociability
  • Metro and metro stations as arenas for youth culture phenomenons
  • Institutional changes of urban spaces, participation of youth and social control.

Case studies along these themes are presented below.

Metro as a media space (2016- 2018)

Brand New Helsinki (2016)

Metro life of youth in St. Petersburg  (2017)

Digital technologies (AR) in the media city (2017-2018)

Sticker artists in St. Petersburg (2016-2017)

Graffiti painters in the Helsinki metro (2016-2018)

Rollers and the material metro space in Helsinki (2017-2018)

Change of urban space and participation (2017)

Locality, mobility, control and Western  Metro in Helsinki (2017-2018)



Johanna Sumiala – project leader, PhD, University of Helsinki, Department of Social Sciences

Päivi Honkatukia –  PhD, University of Tampere, School of Social Sciences and Humanities

Yana Krupets – PhD/Kandidat nauk,  The St. Petersburg National Research University Higher School of Economics, the Center for Youth Studies

Heta Mulari – PhD, Finnish Youth Research Society

Elena Omelchenko – FT, Pietarin National Research University High School of Economics, the Centre for Youth Studies

Leena Suurpää -PhD, Finnish Youth Research Society

Arseniy Svynarenko – PhD/Kandidat nauk, University of Tampere, School of Social Sciences and Humanities