POLIMA is an ethnographic research project that addresses the timely question of political alienation and the dissipation of political imagination, as well as the need for fundamental social change. Existing forms of democratic governance have been challenged from both the left and right and there is growing concern for lack of visions for alternative social formations. Yet at the same time, global challenges of climate emergency and seismic social inequalities compel us urgently to envisage new models for organizing our common life.
POLIMA responds to this call by exploring practices and spaces of political imagination in contemporary Finland. It aims at revitalising public political imagination as well as sociological imagination by identifying conceptual and empirical elements for alternative social formations and advancing social change towards more sustainable future. It combines political sociology and artistic research and maps political imagination of diverse groups and individuals in the fields of art, activism, media and education.
POLIMA builds on two hypotheses. First, it suggests that political imagination has not necessarily dissipated, but alternative political futures are imagined and promoted in a host of everyday spaces that people inhabit. Second, it suggests that forms of political engagement are in a profound transformation and find new arenas and expressions.
POLIMA will make the following contributions:
- Empirically, POLIMA increases our knowledge about the ways in which people imagine and perform alternative political futures. We map and reinvigorate political imagination as a vital component of more socially just, democratic and ecologically sustainable futures.
- Theoretically, POLIMA improves our understanding of the current crisis of democracy and contributes to sociological theorisation of social formations and social change. It produces concepts and explanatory frameworks that better capture the current transformation of politics and offers insights to alternative ways of organizing societies.
- Methodologically, POLIMA seeks to develop new research methods by combining sociological and artistic research.
- Finally, POLIMA reinvigorates public political imagination and thereby identifies fresh perspectives towards more sustainable futures, as well as creates spaces in which to engage in dialogue on political change. Our aim is also to stir up public discussion around the POLIMA topics!