Refine your search

Mamanet´s Profile image

Mamanet

Project
01.08.2018 - 30.09.2025
Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies

Mothers' intra- and interethnic contacts in multicultural neighbourhoods

Background

Becoming a mother is a significant change for a woman. Being a small child’s mother is an emotionally and physically demanding task. This phase of life is associated with a higher risk for decreased number of contacts and, at the same time, an increased need for contact and social support. During this phase, mothers are very dependent on the social support provided by other members of the community and public services in their neighbourhood. This makes motherhood an ideal life stage to develop links with other mothers with small children in the neighbourhood. Positive intra- and interethnic contacts can be beneficial for the well-being of both individuals and communities.

Aims

MAMANET is a multidisciplinary project (social psychology and social policy) which aims to analyse the quality and quantity of the reciprocal contacts of mothers with small children living in the same neighbourhoods in Helsinki, Finland. In addition, the aim is to study factors that support or prevent positive contact encounters in everyday life. MAMANET focuses especially on contacts between mothers who live in multi-ethnic neighbourhoods. The research project has two parts: an ethnographic investigation and two quantitative surveys. The data for the qualitative study were collected from 2018 to 2020. The data for the quantitative study were collected in March 2020 and in the beginning of 2021. The project is funded until the end of 2024.

Funding and co-operation

MAMANET is funded by the Kone foundation, Finnish Cultural Foundation, City of Helsinki, the Alli Paasikivi Foundation, Finnish Cultural Foundation’s North Savo Regional Fund and the Alfred Kordelin Foundation. The project will be done in co-operation between University of Eastern Finland (Finland), Tampere University (Finland) and Nottingham Trent University (United Kingdom). The project’s co-operators also include the City of Helsinki (maternity and child health clinics and playground activities) and Tampere Centre for Childhood, Youth and Family Research.

 

Cooperation

  • Nottingham Trent University

  • Tampere Centre for Childhood, Youth and Family Research PERLA at Tampere University

  • City of Helsinki

Publications

Riikonen, R., Finell, E., Seppälä, T., & Stevenson, C. (2024). The more diverse the better: Identifying with a diverse neighbourhood mother community predicts greater intergroup contact. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 34(1), e2764. https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.2764

  • This research shows that neighbourhood mother communities can provide social support for both majority Finnish mothers and mothers with an immigrant background as well as foster the development of positive and frequent intergroup contact between these mothers. Identification with a multiethnic neighbourhood mother community is most likely to lead to more frequent ja positive intergroup contact.

Paajanen, P., Finell, E., Riikonen, R. & Stevenson, C. (2023). ‘Hey, teach these kids to eat their own food!’: Institutional intergroup contact in immigrant mothers’ talk. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 33(6), 1426–1439. https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.2746

  • This discursive study examines immigrant background mothers’ talk about their intergroup contact with public playground and kindergarten workers. Although mothers built agency and power relations in different ways in their speech, these hierarchical contacts were often described as unequal. The mothers’ talk reflected difficulties in distinguishing whether their lack of power in these contacts was because of being a service user or if it was due to their minority group identity. The open access article is freely available.

Seppälä, T., Riikonen, R., Stevenson, C., Paajanen, P., Repo, K. & Finell, E. (2023). Intragroup contact with other mothers living in the same neighborhood benefits mothers’ life satisfaction: The mediating role of group identification and social support. Journal of Community Psychology, 511365– 1377. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.22960.

  • This research shows that mothers’ frequent and positive contact with other local mothers benefits their wellbeing to the extent that it enhances their identification with the local community of mothers and is perceived to provide needed social support. The social ties with local mothers can be an important source for mothers’ wellbeing.

Riikonen, R., Finell, E., Suoninen, E., Paajanen, P., & Stevenson, C. (2023). Who is expected to make contact? Interpretative repertoires related to an intergroup encounter between Finnish majority mothers and immigrant mothers. British Journal of Social Psychology, 62264280. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12580.

  • This discursive study analyses how mothers talk about an intergroup encounter between Finnish and immigrant mothers in a family café. Coming to the same family café was described to lead to contact between Finnish and immigrant mothers only when at least one mother was constructed as both capable and responsible for initiating contact. The open access article is freely available.

Paajanen, P., Seppälä, T., Stevenson, C., Riikonen, R., & Finell, E. (2023). Keeping apart on the playground: Construction of informal segregation on public playgrounds in multiethnic neighborhoods. Social Psychology Quarterly, 86(1), 53–73. https://doi.org/10.1177/01902725221116632.

  • This ethnographic study investigates how informal segregation is (re)produced on public playgrounds in two ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Finland. Informal segregation among mothers of different backgrounds was common, and it was constructed through everyday practices on the playgrounds. There was little contact between local Finnish mothers and mothers with an immigrant background. The open access article is freely available.

Paajanen, P., Seppälä, T., Stevenson, C., & Finell, E. (2022). Child’s presence shapes immigrant women’s experiences of everyday intergroup contact. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 10(2), 430–444. https://doi.org/10.5964/jspp.7477.

  • In this study, interviews of immigrant-background mothers of young children are thematically analysed to investigate how the presence of one’s child can facilitate or complicate mothers’ contact experiences in multiethnic neighbourhoods. While child’s presence or action could enable an intergroup encounter to emerge, mothers’ prior negative contact experiences with child could lead to contact avoidance in future. Contacts were often found to be fleeting and superficial. The open access article is freely available.

Seppälä, T., Riikonen, R., Paajanen, P., Stevenson, C., & Finell, E. (2022). Development of first-time mothers’ sense of shared identity and integration with other mothers in their neighbourhood. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 32(4), 692–705. https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.2592.

  • This narrative study analyses Finnish first-time mothers’ experiences of social integration with other mothers in the same neighbourhood during one year. A shared sense of motherhood was important for the development of friendships between mothers. The open access article is freely available.

Non-refereed scientific articles

Finell, E., Paajanen, P., & Riikonen, R. (2024). Ulkomaalais- ja suomalaistaustaisten pienten lasten äitien väliset kohtaamiset omalla asuinalueella [Encounters between mothers of young children with foreign and Finnish backgrounds in their own residential area]. In T. A. Renvik & M. Säävälä (Eds.) Kotoutumisen kokonaiskatsaus 2023: Näkökulmana väestösuhteet [Comprehensive review of integration 2023] (pp. 175–185). TEM oppaat ja muut julkaisut 2024:1 FI. Helsinki: Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-327-703-8.

News and events

News and recent events of the project listed below.

  • The MAMANET project organised a final seminar on the results of the project on Monday 18 December 2023. Thank you to all participants for their interest in the project and for the good discussion!

    * * *

    MAMANET: Social relationships between mothers with young children in multicultural neighbourhoods

    The final seminar of the MAMANET research project presented the project’s qualitative and quantitative results on the development of social relationships between mothers with small children in multicultural neighbourhoods in Helsinki. The project has studied mothers with Finnish and immigrant backgrounds who have children under 7 years of age. The research webinar featured the project’s findings on the number and quality of social contacts between mothers in neighbourhoods and on what kinds of factors support or inhibit the development of contacts between mothers. The webinar was organised in Finnish.

  • Paula Paajanen, a doctoral researcher of MAMANET project, participated in the 20th annual conference of the Society for the Study of Ethnic Relations and International Migration (ETMU) held at the University of Jyväskylä, 29.11.-1.12.2023.

    Paajanen participated the workshop ”Inclusion and equity in early childhood care and education”, where she presented a discursive study on immigrant mothers’ talk about their intergroup encounters with early childhood education and care workers of public playgrounds and kindergartens. This recently published study has been done in collaboration with Eerika Finell, Reetta Riikonen and Clifford Stevenson.

  • Doctoral researchers of the MAMANET project, Paula Paajanen and Reetta Riikonen, participated in an international social psychological conference ‘the 19th General Meeting of the European Association of Social Psychology (EASP)’. They presented two studies of the MAMANET project. The conference was held in Krakow, Poland on June 30 – July 4, 2023.

    The poster by Paula Paajanen presented a discursive study on immigrant mothers’ talk about their intergroup encounters with workers of public playgrounds and kindergartens. This study has been done in collaboration with Eerika Finell, Reetta Riikonen and Clifford Stevenson.

    The poster by Reetta Riikonen focused on the role of neighbourhood mother communities and social support in facilitating intergroup contact between mothers in neighbourhoods. This research has been done in collaboration with Eerika Finell, Tuija Seppälä and Clifford Stevenson.

    Before the EASP conference, Paula Paajanen participated in the EASP Brief Summer School. There she participated in a working group ‘A psychosocial look at economic disparities’ organised by Professor Rosa Rodríguez-Bailón (University of Granada).

  • Working group on encounters and avoidances in everyday life

    Eerika Finell and Paula Paajanen from MAMANET together with Jari Martikainen (UEF) organized a working group at The Annual Finnish Social Psychology Conference 2023 on May 5, 2023 at Tampere University, Finland. The presentations focused on everyday encounters and avoidance of them in various settings and relationships. The abstracts of the working group available in Finnish at https://events.tuni.fi/uploads/2023/04/1c8ded03-abstraktikooste.pdf.

    We want to than all the presenters and participants!

     

    Conference presentation

    In this working group, Paula Paajanen presented their joint work with Eerika Finell, Reetta Riikonen and Clifford Stevenson about immigrant mothers’ talk on their intergroup contact with workers of public playgrounds and kindergarten.

  • Working group on knowledge and encounters in everyday institutions

    MAMANET organized a working group at the Annual Sociological Conference of the Westermarck Society on March 23, 2023 at Tampere University, Finland. The presentations looked knowledge and encounters in everyday institutions. More information about the working group and abstracts available at https://sosiologipaivat.fi/working-groups-2023/

     

    Conference presentation

    Paula Paajanen presented their joint work with Eerika Finell, Reetta Riikonen and Clifford Stevenson about immigrant mothers’ talk on their intergroup contact with workers of public playgrounds and kindergarten.

  • Paula Paajanen visited Social Psychology Quarterly podcast to talk with Jamie Aughenbaugh about their article, “Keeping Apart on the Playground: Construction of Informal Segregation on Public Playgrounds in Multiethnic Neighborhoods“, co-authored with Tuija Seppälä, Clifford Stevenson, Reetta Riikonen and Eerika Finell.

    Listen the podcast here: SPQ March 2023 podcast

  • Paula Paajanen and Reetta Riikonen from the MAMANET project participated in the 45th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP) in Athens, Greece. They presented two studies of the MAMANET project.

     

    Paula Paajanen presented an ethnographic study on the (re)production of informal ethnic/racial segregation on public playgrounds in Helsinki, Finland. This ethnographic study is joint work with Tuija Seppälä, Clifford Stevenson, Reetta Riikonen and Eerika Finell and will be published soon.

     

    The presentation by Reetta Riikonen, Eerika Finell, Tuija Seppälä and Clifford Stevenson focused on identification with neighbourhood mothers and how it supports interethnic contact among local mothers of small children in Helsinki.

    The ISPP’s 45th Annual Scientific Meeting “Democracy as an Achievement: Recognizing Tensions, Challenges, and Aspirations through Political Psychology” was held in Athens, Greece on July 14-17, 2022. The program and accepted abstracts are available here: https://ispp.eventsair.com/ispp-2022-annual-scientific-meeting/schedule.

  • The presentation by Reetta Riikonen, Tuija Seppälä, Clifford Stevenson and Eerika Finell focused on the connection between identification with the neighbourhood mother community and intergroup contact frequency among local mothers.

     

    Paula Paajanen presented their joint work with Tuija Seppälä, Clifford Stevenson, Reetta Riikonen and Eerika Finell about the (re)production of informal ethnic/racial segregation on public playgrounds in Helsinki.

     

    Tuija Seppälä, Reetta Riikonen, Clifford Stevenson, Paula Paajanen, Katja Repo and Eerika Finell discussed how intragroup contact with local mothers benefits mothers’ life satisfaction. The presented study shows that positive and frequent intragroup contact is positively related with life satisfaction. The effect of contact on life satisfaction seems to occur through identification with the local mother community and perceived social support from these mothers.

    The conference was held at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio on May 5-6, 2022. The accepted abstracts are available at: https://sites.uef.fi/socialpsychologyconference2022/call-for-abstracts/?lang=en.

  • The cooperation between MAMANET and the city of Helsinki bears fruit. The article by the city of Helsinki discusses observations related to playgrounds and new practical actions taken by the city of Helsinki to make playgrounds more inclusive for all families. The observations and actions are based on the MAMANET research project and the development project called Vetovoimainen leikkipuisto [Attractive playground]. Read more about the observations and actions in Finnish at https://kestavyys.hel.fi/kohtaamiset-leikkipuistossa-lisaavat-lapsiperheiden-hyvinvointia-ja-auttavat-onnistuneessa-kotoutumisessa/.

  • Reetta Riikonen, Eerika Finell, Eero Suoninen, Paula Paajanen, and Clifford Stevenson presented their discursive study about who is expected to make contact in an intergroup encounter between mothers from different ethnic backgrounds.

     

    Paula Paajanen, Tuija Seppälä, Clifford Stevenson, and Eerika Finell discussed in their presentation how motherhood shapes immigrant women’s interethnic contacts in diversifying neighborhoods focusing on how they experience such encounters in their everyday life.

  • Reetta Riikonen, Tuija Seppälä, Katja Repo and Eerika Finell presented preliminary results of the MamaFriend study about mothers’ identification with neighbourhood mothers and the frequency of their interethnic contacts with other mothers in the neighbourhood.

    Paula Paajanen, Tuija Seppälä, Clifford Stevenson, and Eerika Finell discussed in their presentation how being a young child’s mother shapes ethnic minority mothers’ intergroup contacts, and the related experiences in their everyday life in mixed neighborhoods.

  • Working group: Social contacts, parenthood and wellbeing

    MAMANET organized a working group at the Social Psychology Conference 2021 on April 15-16, 2021. The presentations looked at intra- and intergroup contacts from the perspectives of parenting and wellbeing. More information about the working group and abstracts available at https://blogs.helsinki.fi/socialpsychologyconference2021/working-groups-and-abstracts/.

     

    Conference presentations

    Tuija Seppälä presented work group’s results which show how integration with mothers of the same neighbourhood is associated with the experiences and understanding of motherhood.

     

    Paula Paajanen, Tuija Seppälä, Clifford Stevenson, and Eerika Finell presented their study on how being a mother shapes ethnic minority mothers’ experiences of their everyday intergroup contacts in mixed neighborhoods.

     

    Reetta Riikonen, Eero Suoninen, Paula Paajanen, Clifford Stevenson and Eerika Finell presented their study regarding different roles and responsibilities that are constructed for ethnic majority and minority mothers in descriptions of intergroup encounters.

  • Working group: Parenting and hope

    MAMANET organized a working group at the Annual Sociology Conference 2021 on March 11, 2021. The presentations looked at hope or hopelessness from a parenting perspective particularly in a multicultural society. More information available at http://sosiologipaivat.fi/in-english/2021-annual-conference/working-groups-2021/.

     

    Conference presentations

    Reetta Riikonen, Eero Suoninen, Paula Paajanen, Clifford Stevenson and Eerika Finell presented their study about ethnic majority and minority mothers’ use of interpretative repertoires regarding interethnic contact.

     

    Paula Paajanen, Tuija Seppälä, Clifford Stevenson and Eerika Finell presented their study’s results regarding immigrant mothers’ everyday interethnic contacts.

     

    Tuija Seppälä, Reetta Riikonen, Paula Paajanen, Clifford Stevenson and Eerika Finell presented their study about first time mothers’ experiences on building social relationships with other mothers living in the same neighbourhood.

  • Paula Paajanen, Tuija Seppälä, Clifford Stevenson and Eerika Finell presented results of their study about immigrant mothers’ everyday intergroup contact experiences through their children in the neighborhoods.

     

    Reetta Riikonen, Tuija Seppälä, Clifford Stevenson, Katja Repo and Eerika Finell presented preliminary results from the quantitative part of MAMANET project, MamaFriend, regarding mothers’ identification with other neighbourhood mothers and its effect on the frequency of their interethnic contacts with other neighbourhood mothers.

  • Conference presentation at the Annual Social Psychology Conference 2020

    Paula Paajanen, Tuija Seppälä, Clifford Stevenson and Eerika Finell presented results from the qualitative part of MAMANET project focusing on immigrant mothers’ experiences of direct intergroup contact through children on 7 May 2020.

     

    Conference presentation at the 16th ETMU Conference 2019

    Eerika Finell, Paula Paajanen, Tuija Seppälä and Clifford Stevenson discussed preliminary results of the qualitative part of the MAMANET project about intergroup contacts between mothers with a Finnish background and mothers with an immigrant background at the 16th ETMU Conference in Tampere on 14 November 2019.

     

    Research seminar: Diversity in neighbourhoods

    MAMANET organized a seminar in collaboration with Tampere Centre for Childhood, Youth and Family Research PERLA in Tampere on 1 October 2019. More information at https://www.tuni.fi/fi/ajankohtaista/diversity-neighbourhoods.

     

    Conference presentation at the Urban Studies Conference 2019

    Eerika Finell and Paula Paajanen presented the MAMANET project and preliminary observations from the qualitative part of the project at the Urban Studies Conference. They discussed the context of the study and the observed supporting and inhibiting factors for everyday intergroup contacts between mothers with small children in multi-ethnic neighborhoods in Helsinki on 26 April 2019.

     

    Conference presentation at the Social Psychology Mini Conference 2018

    Paula Paajanen gave a presentation based on her doctoral thesis at the Social Psychology Miniconference. Her doctoral thesis is part of the MAMANET project on 9 November 2018.