In January 2019, in the mood of the upcoming Parliament elections, we conducted 40 in-depth interviews with people of different ages, and of varying educational and socio-economic backgrounds all over Estonia. The aim of the research was to attain a more nuanced and versatile view of conservative voters than what was presented in the media and general discourse. During the interviews we mapped people’s views towards general issues in the contemporary Estonian society, but also, the expressions of patriotism and nationalist sentiments and attitudes towards the preservation of the Estonian culture, language and people.
This research was commissioned by Estonian Startup Leaders Club.
The survey was very well conducted and met our needs. It focused on relevant themes, the chosen methods were appropriate and the findings were to the point. The value of the study for the museum was to receive feedback from museum experts – a vistitor group that offers insight into what is the function and goal of museums in contemporary times.
Agnes Aljas Estonian National Museum
During October 9 – 12, 2018 Estonian National Museum hosted a conference titled “Re-imagining the Museum in the Global Contemporary” – the annual event of ICOM ICME, the international committee of the International Council of Museums devoted to ethnographic museums and collections.
We engaged the students of folkloristics and applied heritage from the University of Tartu in studying the conference participants’ feedback to museum’s permanent expositions titled “Encounters” and “Echo of the Urals”. We also explored their personal experiences of Tartu and Estonia as tourist destinations.
In this study we combined a variety of methods – short interviews, participant observations during the excursions and walk-along interviews with participants during their independent explorations of expositions. The use of different methods allowed to discover a large range of details that have its effect on the entire visitor experience.
The findings of the study help the museum to understand better, how visitors relate to the expositions and what they place significance on within the space in general. Also, which exhibits and themes catch the attentions of visitors more, and what is it about them that is acknowledged and appreciated.
Photo by: Aivo Põlluäär
During the fall of 2018, The Center for Applied Anthropology of Estonia co-operated with the design agency Velvet and conducted research for TalTech’s future homepage.
In-depth interviews were conducted in order to map the needs and expectations of various user groups of the homepage. The user experience of university employees, private sector partners as well as future students was analysed and served as valuable insight for Velvet in the process of developing the concept and design of TalTech’s new homepage.
During the fall of 2018 we conducted research for the future strategy of Tartu’s Smart City concept, commissioned by the Estonian design agency Velvet. The aim of the project was to engage the inhabitants of Tartu in providing user-centric insight into the potential solutions for a sustainable rise in the quality of life and the development of a supportive eco-system for young talents.
The Center for Applied Anthropology of Estonia conducted approx. 30 in-depth interviews with Tartu inhabitants with the aim of gaining a better understanding of their current problems, needs, attitudes and expectations in relation to the Smart City concept. The research involved participants of various socio-economic status, incl young talents and skilled employees of foreign background.
The analysis of the ethnographic material was used by Velvet in the development of possible future scenarios for the city of Tartu.
Police and Border Guard Board was very content with the research carried out by the Center for Applied Anthropology of Estonia. The analysis provided suggestions to which bureaus should be located in each other’s vicinity, as well as answers to the main question prior to the research – in what extent is the model of an activity-based office applicable in the PBGB’s headquarters. We also received numerous suggestions on how to use space differently and an overview of the challenges faced by the organisation. The anthropological methods that were used, allowed to bring forth the deeper concerns of the employees that would have probably remained hidden with a mere statistical analysis.
Esko Suharov Real Estate Specialist, The Bureau of Logistics, Police and Border Guard Board
In the spring of 2018, The Center for Applied Anthropology of Estonia in cooperation with the Ethnology Department at the University of Tartu, carried out a work behaviour analysis at the headquarters of the Police and Border Guard Board (PBGB).
This research was a pilot study where interviews and participant observations that were carried out in 15 bureaus provided insight into choosing the most suitable future office layout. The daily work behaviour, specificities of the organisation and its activities, as well as the strategic goals were studied in order to assist in the selection of choices for the future headquarters design.
The findings of the study were presented in a written report that included an overview of current work patterns in the present headquarters, as well as the main problems and challenges that result from the spatial arrangements and work culture. We presented recommendations for the future office on how to support cooperation between the employees, decrease noise and stress factors, and how to engage in the utilisation of space in a more flexible and sensible manner.
We argued that an office-design with the selected layout is not merely a real estate project, but instead the creation of work space that supports and facilitates the desired shift in the organisational culture. The extensive interviewing and engagement of employees that this project encompassed, allowed the top management to become aware of the fears and misconceptions circling within the organisation, and hence to take them into consideration in the future change management and internal communication processes.
Between June and November 2018 the Center for Applied Anthropology of Estonia conducted an anthropological research aiming at contributing to the development of strategies strengthening the Estonian startup ecosystem. The wider approach of our study dealt with the questions of how to develop the interest in entrepreneurship and digital competencies among children and adolescents. More specifically, our focus was on the field of cyber security and knowledge, skills, and attitudes that potentially encourage young people to become founders of startups.
The emphasis of the study was on the experiences of children, adolescents, and young adults – how they perceive the expectation of parents, teachers and education system, the prevalent cultural norms in the Estonian society (e.g. career choices, gender stereotypes), how do they evaluate the possibilities for undertaking hobbies and interests, how do they perceive their future and, in their opinion, what are the biggest problems in regard to the matters this study concerns.
Drawing on the analysis of anthropological fieldwork, the study provides recommendations and suggestions for different stakeholders to support and encourage boys’ and girls’ interest in entrepreneurship and cyber security.
We were very satisfied with the contribution of the The Center for Applied Anthropology into this project and most certainly plan to co-operate in the future as well. The insight that rose out of the in-depth interviews carried out by anthropologists provided such a thorough and invaluable insight into this sector.
We, ourselves, have conducted interviews in the past as well, but we must admit that we have not been able to open up such a nuanced understanding of a group’s culture and behaviour. Therefore, whenever similar needs arise in our future projects, we most certainly plan to engage The Center’s anthropologists again.
Laura Aaben Praxis
In winter 2018 the Centre for Applied Anthropology of Estonia (CAAE) conducted research in the Estonian construction sector for a project that was a collaboration with the Estonian Think Tank Praxis and the Estonian Tax and Customs Board. This sector leads in the lists of fields where the practices of unofficial salaries and un-reported taxes are widespread. The goal of the research was to explore the practices of employment, as well as prevalent moral and ethical standpoints.
To understand the behavioural patterns and common practices in the industry, our researchers conducted 15 in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs and construction workers. We explored the tensions, power issues, conflicts and problems that are rooted in the functioning of the construction sector. The entrepreneurs involved in the study also had a chance to make recommendations in order to improve the situation.
It emerged that the roots of the shadow economy in the construction sector lie in deep disappointment with the government and public sector; and in the manipulation of hierarchical power structures inside the construction sector – those between the main and sub-contractors. Efforts by both the public as well as the private sector are necessary in order to steer the construction sector towards a more law-abiding partner. CAAE’s role in this study was to convey the views and positions of the representatives of the construction sector to the Tax and Customs Board as authentically as possibly, while guaranteeing the informants’ anonymity.
During the spring and summer of 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 Ministry of Education and Science titled “The Motivation for Participation in Youth Work for Young Adults aged 19–26”.
The purpose of the research was to map which conditions, experiences and social networks contribute and support participation in organised youth activities for this age group. The findings serve as an input to the new youth work development framework and include suggestions on how to plan activities while taking into account the needs and interests of this age group.
CAAE’s role in this study was explore the perspectives of those who have, for different reasons, remained disengaged with organised youth work or various extracurricular activities. This included young people in various risk-groups as well as those who have too little leisure time due to the responsibilities at school, work or home. Participant observation was carried out among four different types of young adults with the aim of getting a better understanding of their experiences.
The study revealed that in this age group, young people are inclined to fill the roles they are familiar with – achievements and setbacks, but also the interests developed during the teenage years play its role. While lack of time is commonly brought forth as the reason for not participating in youth activities, the underlying reasons are also that some activities are sensed as “unfamiliar” or incompatible with one’s self-image.
The findings of the study suggest that in order to attract more young adults to youth activities, it is necessary to review and accommodate the practicies of youth work, also to take into account people’s background and earlier experiences in order to offer support for acquiring new experiences.
In the summer of 2018, the Centre for Applied Anthropology of Estonia conducted research on mobility patterns on the island of Saaremaa. Lümanda village and its immediate surroundings are situated 35-50 km from the island’s capital and are sparsely populated. This presents a challenge for both local inhabitants as well as the local municipality in providing the necessary means of transportation.
We lived a week in the area and interviewed close to 50 people. Our goal was to study the current mobility patterns and practices of a community in a rural area in order to probe their readiness for alternative ways of organising transportation, e.g. demand-based transportation.
We concluded that in rural areas an organic form of demand-based transportation exists, where people are used to planning their mobility ahead and cooperating with other community members in the area. However, we brought forth certain user groups who’s mobility is limited and whose quality of life is negatively affected due to that: mothers with small children, elderly people with reduced mobility or special needs, people working shift-hours and children and young people who participate in extracurricular activities in Kuressaare.
The results were presented to the Government Office’s Innovation Team, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Road Administration and Ministry of Social Affairs. They concluded that the user personas we developed based on our fieldwork are well applicable in other rural areas of Estonia.
Saaremaa island’s municipality is currently searching for solutions on how to manage public transportation in a more efficient way while providing the necessary mobility to its inhabitants. We made four suggestions in order to improve the situation, based on the results of our research: a network of community drivers, school buses that take children to extracurricular activities in Kuressaare, safe bicycle lanes to schools and official hitchhiker stops on the outskirts of Kuressaare. A pilot project of community drivers is taking place at the end of 2018.
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.
Our thinking sessions were invigorating, the debates compelling and constructive, refreshing and inspired by contradictions that rose from experiences. I felt at ease because we were thinking along the same lines, our partnership created a space for healthy self-criticism and humour. I enjoy cooperating and co-working with the anthropologists from the Centre for Applied Anthropology of Estonia, because with them the analysis phase is not a mundane task to get over with. Instead, it is a playful exploration, where progress is carried by self-analysis, discovery and learning.
Maie Kiisel Centre for Applied Social Sciences, University of Tartu
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.
The Center for Applied Anthropology exceeded our expectations with their abilities of focus and analysis, we are thankful for such a good partnership!”
Agnes Aljas Estonian National Museum
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.
The aim of the target group research conducted together with the service designer Maarja Mõtus was to increase the welfare of the HIV-positive people, to further the collaboration between the associated parties of interest (patients, doctors, support group organisations etc) and to induce innovation in the field of HIV.
As part of the research, we conducted interviews with HIV-positive patients. We focused on the motivation and needs of the target group and their problems in the contemporary wellness and social system and organised a seminar that brought together the various parties of interest.
Collaboration partner: service designer Maarja Mõtus
The Center for Applied Anthropology of Estonia is a responsible partner, meaning it is not necessary to constantly worry whether everything that needs to be done gets done, to organise and manage the process. The work gets done without problems and according to the schedule.
Liina Märtin the project manager at Faktum & Ariko
Together with Faktum & Ariko we have conducted various projects that rely on qualitative methods. Examples of our collaboration include the client satisfaction research (in the field of transportation), media coverage research (in the field of banking) and also in advertising. We have primarily been focusing on the qualitative part of the research, for instance conducting in-depth interviews and focus groups.
We conducted a research on waste behaviour for Tartu City Museum. By relying on in-depth interviews, rubbish diaries and observations, we shed light on people’s waste behaviour, their attitude towards waste and the economic action associated with it. The material was used to create the exhibition ‘History is rubbish is history’ that was open this autumn.
In addition to in-depth knowledge of folklore, CAAE also communicated with the museum and guided us through the process in a manner that was considerate of the needs of the museum. As a result of the midterm conclusions presented within a few weeks, we acquired precisely the content we needed.
CAAE comprehends and understands – they can simplify the complicated and turn a worthy idea into a content-rich applicable solution. CAAE is a unique and ideal partner in its field of conducting research.
Paavo Kroon the curator at Estonian Road Museum
The aim of the research for the summer exhibition ‘Animals on the Road’ at the Estonian Road Museum was to collect and analyse the topical folkloristic material from the Estonian Folklore Archive. The target of the work was to provide input for the creation of the exposition and the characters of the historic road who present the visitors with the lifestyle and beliefs of various historic periods.
Photo Erge Sonn
The report definitely provided us with a perspective that we did not have earlier, because earlier we had not acquired information about ourselves from the clients in such a way.
Helina Loor the CEO of SpeakSmart
The aim of the SpeakSmart debating training research that was carried out among the clients and potential clients was to ascertain the expectations and predispositions of the target group with regards to the services and the communication of the services of the debating training. We wanted to highlight the opinions of the people who had participated in the training, but also of the potential clients about debating in general and SpeakSmart in particular.
We collected data through individual semi-structured interviews.
As an end-result of the work, a report, a poster and a presentation were born in which propositions were made and recommendations were given with the aim of supporting the further development of SpeakSmart.
The research carried out by CAAE enabled us to map the current situation: as a result, we are now better aware of the expectations of the visitors for the museum, the history-themed exhibitions and programs. The report compiled by CAAE has become a working document that is at times open again to develop the conceptions of new exhibitions.
Laura Kipper the project manager at Estonian History Museum
The main aim of the visitor research at the Estonian History Museum was to collect information about the visitors of the museum, their expectations and exhibition experience. We analysed the perception of different branches of the museum and investigated what the visitors thought was the role of the museum in the society.
In our work we primarily relied on the qualitative approach that consisted of visual methods, observation, discussions and semi-structured interviews.
The report was to be used to improve the compilation of exhibitions, the organisation of events and the conduct of marketing and to plan the new permanent exhibition.
It is well known that there is no one and easy way to measure the quality of the education, thus the expectations and existing statistical data were collected and the opinion of various target groups was studied. CAAE carried out conversations, focus groups, surveys, analyses and created a complicated web of connections that clearly indicated what was happening at school and in the hearts of people.
Lauri Läänemets the head of Väätsa parish
The aim of the research conducted in Väätsa basic school was to collect data for compiling the school development plan 2015-2019 and to improve the school life.
We researched the impressions the alumni, pupils, parents, teachers and the governing body had of the school by observation, conversations, focus group interviews and semi-structured interviews. The emphasis was on the strengths and weaknesses of the school and the recommendations for improving the school life given by the target groups. The report was designed as support material for planning the future development of Väätsa basic school.