Jukka Törrönen

Jukka Törrönen


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Works at Department of Public Health Sciences
Telephone 08-16 14 69
Visiting address Sveavägen 160, Sveaplan
Room 335
Postal address Institutionen för folkhälsovetenskap 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I am a sociologist. For me, substance use habits, practices and policies have provided a platform to study broader social processes such as continuities and changes in governmental programs, sociocultural norms and gender issues. In my research the purpose has been to produce knowledge how substance use is related to everyday life situations and intoxication, healthy or unhealthy subjectivities and safe or harmful practices, as well as how policies of substance use embody legitimate, problematic or unequal actions. As empirical data, I have used public health documents, parliament sessions, media texts, scientific writings, individual interviews, focus group discussions, survey data, advertisements, online forums, diaries and autobiographies.

In 2000 I finished a Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Helsinki. In my dissertation I investigated the changing relationships between the citizen and the state by analysing politicians’, journalists’, trade union activists’ and business people’s  views on alcohol problems and alcohol policy from Finland and Estonia. Later I continued substance use research by heading research projects that dealt with disorderly public drinking and control policies, young adults' drinking cultures in night-time economy, changes in the cultural position of drinking in Finland and Sweden among four generations, the gendered dynamics of drinking situations in the last 40 years and women’s substance use and health.

Today I am directing two projects funded by FORTE: 1) “Drinking, gender differences and social change. The gendered dynamics of Swedish drinking situations from a comparative perspective” and 2) “Why are young people drinking less than earlier?”. The first mentioned project covers a time-period from the 1960s to the 2000s and combines quantitative and qualitative approaches to study the drinking situations from different angles. The study examines what kinds of gendered differences and similarities there are in the main drinking situations in Sweden, traces how these differences and similarities have developed and specifies the characteristics of Swedish drinking situations in comparison to Finnish and Italian drinking situations.

The other ongoing project focuses on to analyse the declining trends of young people’s alcohol consumption by using both quantitative and qualitative data sets, as well as by doing comparisons between Sweden and Australia. The study approaches the downturn in youth drinking by analysing six possible explanations for it: 1) Changes in parenting style; 2) changes in gender identities; 3) Increased use of social media; 4) Polarization of drinking habits; 5) A health and fitness trend; 6) The switch to wine. The study takes a task to clarify in what way and in what kinds of contexts these explanations may hold or don’t hold true, and how they alone or together may explain declining alcohol consumption of young people.

I am also a project member of the programme “Responding to and reducing gambling problems” funded by FORTE and run by Jenny Cisneros Örnberg.

After finishing my doctorate studies I worked as a contract researcher for the Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies until I received a chair as professor in Stockholm University at SoRAD where I started in September 2006. Since then I have been happy to work in Stockholm University.  

Research interests

Alcohol and drug research, gendered substance use, young people’s drinking cultures, addiction, gambling, public health, theoretical sociology, qualitative methods, visual analysis, comparative research.



A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Janne Autto, Jukka Törrönen. Citizenship Studies 23 (1), 78-95

    In 2015, the newly elected government of Finland introduced austerity measures designed to improve the public economy, which had not recovered from the financial crisis of 2007–2008. The article examines how the government sought to secure acceptance for austerity by appealing to citizens’ emotions. We analyse how the measures were emotionally motivated and how, according to the parties in power, citizens should and should not have felt about them. The article shows how the politics of austerity produces various and contradictory feeling rules. These seek to temper citizens’ negative emotions towards austerity, such as dissatisfaction over unfair sharing of pain and distrust towards political authority. Interestingly, the rules evoke hope that a better future lies ahead if citizens follow the proposed measures, yet prompt fears of what will happen if they do not. The government also emphasised its transparency and honesty to prompt empathy and trust from the population.

  • 2019. Jukka Törrönen (et al.).

    Recent surveys have found a strong decrease in alcohol consumption among young people and this trend has been identified in European countries, Australia and North America. Previous research suggests that the decline in alcohol consumption may be explained by changes in parenting style, increased use of social media, changes in gender identities or a health and fitness trend. We use qualitative interviews with drinking and non-drinking young people from Sweden (N = 49) to explore in what way and in what kinds of contexts these explanations may hold true and how they alone or together may explain declining alcohol consumption among young people. By using the pragmatist approach, we pay attention to what kinds of concerns, habits, practices, situations and meanings our interviewees relate to adolescents' low alcohol consumption or decline in drinking. By analyzing these matters, we aim to specify the social mechanisms that have reduced adolescents' drinking. Our paper discovers social mechanisms similar to previous studies but also a few that have previously been overlooked. We propose that the cultural position of drinking may have changed among young people so that drinking has lost its unquestioned symbolic power as a rite of passage into adulthood. There is less peer pressure to drink and more room for competing activities. This opening of a homogeneous drinking culture to the acceptance of differences may function as a social mechanism that increases the success of other social mechanisms to reduce adolescents' drinking. Furthermore, the results of the paper suggest a hypothesis of the early maturation of young people as more individualized, responsible, reflective, and adult-like actors than in earlier generations. Overall, the paper provides hypotheses for future quantitative studies to examine the prevalence and distribution of the identified social mechanisms, as well as recommends directions for developing effective interventions to support young people's healthy lifestyle choices.

  • 2019. Jenni Simonen (et al.). Drugs 26 (1), 88-96

    Aims: This study analyses how Finnish and Norwegian teenagers and parents of teenagers perceive the appropriateness, desirability or harmfulness of different drinking situations. The focus is on whether teenagers and parents perceive the situations similarly or differently.

    Methods: Our data consist of focus group interviews from Finland and Norway with teenagers aged 14–17 years (n = 8 groups, n = 44 participants) and parents (n = 8 groups, n = 38). Three pictures portraying different drinking situations were presented to the participants, who were asked to describe (1) what kind of situation the picture depicts, (2) whether the way of drinking in the picture was acceptable or not and (3) whether they identified with the situation or not.

    Findings: Our analysis showed that teenagers and parents defined the situations similarly and applied rather similar criteria when assessing the appropriateness of drinking. The most important criteria related to the amount and the way of drinking, and whether or not children were present in the situation. Regarding the identification with the situations, teenagers seemed to have somewhat stricter attitudes towards intoxication than adults, which can be perceived as a sign of an ongoing trend of decreasing youth drinking.

    Conclusions: Overall, our analysis suggests that the alcohol worlds of parents and teenagers resembled each other, supporting the notion that the generational gap between parents and teenagers is diminishing.

Show all publications by Jukka Törrönen at Stockholm University

Last updated: March 29, 2019

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