Mallitaloista kokemuksen malleja? Modernisoituvat suomalaiset maalaiskodit 1920- ja 1930-luvuilla sosiaalisesti tuotettuna kokemusrakenteena

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisMonograph


In my dissertation, I study the changing experience of dwelling in modernizing farm-
houses in Finland in the 1920s and 1930s. My work represents qualitative research,
and it is based on the theory of the social production of space. Methodologically, my
work focuses specifically on content analysis applied through explicated research
concepts. I understand modernization as a phenomenon to be examined through a
phenomenological research approach. Anti-modern modernism, used in earlier re-
search on the history of architecture, serves as the central concept of the analysis.
Through it, I look at the modernization of farmhouses as a space for harmonizing
traditions and innovations. The modernization of the homes of farmers and crafts-
men living in the countryside took place in Finland, too, as a combination of local
traditions and transboundary modernist ideals. Due to the slow progress of technical
reforms, changes in the layout of homes were a significant form of modernization
in Finland. My main research data consists of three major entities: firstly, I study the
archival materials of agricultural organizations concerning the field of construction
guidance provided by them, and the construction guides produced by the aforemen-
tioned non-governmental organizations, the Federation of Small Farmers as a pri-
mary example. Secondly, I analyse the type plans of smallholder homes drawn up in
the 1920s and 1930s, as well as photographic material on homes produced by pro-
fessionals as tools for the visual representation of residential buildings and the space
of the home. Thirdly, I examine oral history materials collected in the 20th century
from the perspective of lived experience. The network of interaction, in which eve-
ryday living and the varying forms of experience of it took shape, is made visible
through the data.

By looking at the guidance concerning the construction work and the ways of living,
I have illustrated how the modernization of rural homes typically meant not only the
arrangement and definition of the spaces of the home according to their functional-
ity, but also the recognition of the continuities associated with dwelling in those
homes. In this way, the implementation of functionalist design principles took place
by using traditional building materials, structural solutions and, for example, ways of
placing buildings on the plot. Thus, modernization was not a sudden break, but be-
came part of the gradually changing everyday way of life. This becomes evident
through the pictorial materials of the work, where the new doctrines concerning


spatial arrangements were made visible in type plans drawn up on the drawing boards
of master builders and architects. At the same time, together with other experts,
many of them documented people's living conditions around Finland by photo-
graphing. The purpose of photographic documentation was to both preserve the
traditional ways of living and building, which were considered to be under threat,
and to make visible the problems associated with living in the countryside and the
means of solving those issues. In the rural areas of the 1920s and 1930s, written and
pictorial communication encountered a population whose level of education was still
modest and decidedly variable. At the same time, many people still had vivid experi-
ences, for example, of living in houses without chimneys. However, the media that
conveyed modernity gradually changed people's ideas about the organization of the
spaces in the home. This is how the material and mental structure, where the expe-
rience of living took place, was given shape. In this study I examine the reflection of
these experiences during the 20th century in written oral history testimonies. The
examination shows that the experience of dwelling in the modernizing homes was
related, for example, to generational and gender aspects. Furthermore, the homes of
the past often served as reference points for reminiscences. Often the modernization
of the farmhouse was also associated with the local social relations.

In my dissertation, I describe how the lived experience in modernizing rural homes
was shaped in the interaction of international doctrines of housing and construction,
and the perceptions of modernity and tradition negotiated by professionals and lay
people. This interaction and its results were manifest, for example, in the construc-
tion manuals and in the broad visual culture of the domestic life of the era. The
personal life history of the residents also created a portion of this background for
the individual experience. As a key result of the research, I make the interpretation
that experiences related to the spaces of habitation can be viewed within the struc-
ture of experiences formed by the above elements. This structure defined the bound-
aries, conditions and ideals for domestic living, within which individual experiences
took place. This also gave rise to common and shared experiences of modernity and
everyday life in homes, which inversely influenced on how the spatiality of homes
was socially produced.

Original languageFinnish
Place of PublicationTampere
Number of pages390
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-03-2753-8
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028


  • modernization, anti-modern modernism, experience, farmhouses, to dwell, 1920s, 1930s

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