In March 2018 the Center for Applied Anthropology of Estonia conducted a pilot research on the parcel courier’s journey for the Estonian postal serviceOmniva. We used a method of shadowing: during a four-hour-period our researcher observed the work of the courier on his daily circle from the parcel center to the package machines and back to the center.
The aim of the research was to get a brief overview of the everyday work of the courier. Out of the variety of aspects that influence a courier on daily basis, we focused on figuring out what disturbs or even disrupts his workflow and finding ways to make the system more efficient from his perspective.
The fieldwork yielded valuable insights in preparation for a workshop we conducted for the management and developers team of Omniva where we opened and discussed the multitude of factors that influence the work of various functions whose operations remain largely out of sight for the team. This helped to see small changes that could improve the effectiveness of the processes and encouraged the developers to conduct similar fieldworks with their users.
During November 2017-February 2018, the Centre for Applied Anthropology of Estonia (CAAE) collaborated with University of Tartu’s Centre for Applied Social Sciences in conducting a research for Estonia’s Youth Work Center, titled “Youth Participation in Decision-Making Processes”. The resarch was based on a premise that the youth in Estonia is not particularly eager to participate in decision-making processes on societal level.
In order to get a better overview of the lifeworld of the youth, the way they sense and conceptualise it, CAAE’s anthropologists carried out fieldwork in five Estonian towns. We employed methods of participant observation and ethnographic interviews with youngsters of different age-groups, and of different ethnic, social and educational backgrounds. One of the aims of the fielwork was to establish contacts with people who are not active in youth work, and to find new ways and forms of engaging the youth.
It emerged from the interviews that young people often associate participation in decision-making processes with political activism, and therefore sometimes fail to see themselves being engaged. Many pointed out that they do not vote at the elections because they feel that they lack both necessary information and life-experience in choosing the right candidates. In their dealings with city officials, the youth clearly sense a hierarchy of age and power, and politicians’ sudden rise of interest towards the needs and wishes of young people prior to the local elections.
The youth also pointed out how there are no places in the public sphere designed for young people and how they can spend time in the public areas only at the mercy of adults. The young people expressed a yearning for much bigger freedom in making decisions over their own life and in conducting their daily activities, incl organising their leisure time.
In order to engage more young people in wider social issues, they need to experience trust, equal partnership and meaningful co-operation.
Between December 2017 and March 2018 the Center for Applied Anthropology of Estonia conducted a research on museum communications for the Estonian National Museum (ENM). The project focused on the representation of religion and items related to religion within the permanent exhibition ‘Encounters’. ENM was intrigued to know (1) what are visitors’ expectations on the exhibiting of religion, (2) which conceptions impact the representations, perception and reception of religion in a museum context, and (3) how do the visitors perceive museum’s communication activities.
CAAE interviewed visitors and curators of the permanent exhibition. The findings uncovered a trend that is relatively characteristic to Europe – religion is interpreted from deeply individual perspectives. Every visitor’s as well as curator’s perception of the exhibits that are related to religion is influenced by his/her (non-)religious/spiritual, professional and educational background.
In 2015-2016, a project focusing on Ülejõe, the historic area of Tartu is conducted on the initiative of Tartu City Museum. The project encompasses both Tartu Ülejõe and Raadi-Kruusamäe districts and is called Üle Jõe (Over the River). Ülejõe is one of the most severely damaged areas in Tartu in World War II. A large part of the historic buildings was destroyed and the population of the district changed. The aim of the project is to get to know and familiarise the citizens of Tartu with Ülejõe as an area with a fascinating history and valorise it as an interesting place to live.
Our role was to map the area through biographical interviews, to attract students to participate in the project and tutor them and to carry out the activities associated with the project. The aim is to link the world of science with the society and to encourage young researchers to deal with the problems and questions of the university town. This allows us to demonstrate the applicability of the humanities and social sciences by showing how the scientists of the aforementioned fields can give us new kind of information about the society and the ways it can be furthered.
Collaborators: Tartu City Museum, University of Tartu, Estonian National Museum
Ordered by the Harju County Museum, we organised two one-day trainings for schoolchildren whose mother tongue is Russian. The aim was to equip the pupils with the primary skills necessary to conduct biographic in-depth interviews with their relatives who speak Russian and reside in Estonia. The interviews are part of the joint project between the Harju County Museum and Narva Museum, the target of which is to collect biographic recollections of the history and lifestyle of the Russian-speaking population living in Harju and Ida-Viru county.
We observed 59 discussions at the Opinion Festival. The aim was to find out how various discussion platforms work, what the role of the choice of space is and how the design of the discussion area influences the discussion and how the panelists, moderator and the audience relate to each other. We compiled a report based on the observations that is used to organise the next Opinion Festival.