Helsinki: A software sorted city? A case study of the geodemographics industry in Finland

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Over the past ten years or so, social scientists have started to pay an increasing amount of interest in the role that computer software is playing in contemporary urban environments. So far, approaches that treat information technologies as increasingly constitutive of the social world have been missing in Finnish Sociology. On the other hand, after an initial period of activity around sociological analysis of various information technologies in the UK, there has been something of a lull. This paper takes one example of influential information technology, geodemographic neighbourhood segmentation software, and analyses it in the context of Helsinki, the capital of Finland. The analysis consists of three parts. First, based on existing literature, a brief history of Helsinki is provided. Secondly, commercial geodemographics of Helsinki are analysed in detail from the perspective of Finnish Urban Sociology. The analysis pays specific attention to the problems that arise when a classification scheme developed in the UK is translated in to the historical and cultural context of a Nordic welfare State. Finally, the paper looks at the theoretical debates around geodemographics, and considers directions for future research in the area. After all, the inundation of digital data in our culture has not only been seen as a new subject of inquiry for social science, but as an intensifying methodological challenge for the entire discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Popularised journalFennia
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)140-153
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 117,1 Geosciences
  • Geodemographics
  • Helsinki Metropolitan Area
  • Social geography
  • Commercial data
  • GIS
  • Research methodology


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