The online citizen panel provides researchers with essential tools for examining public opinion. First, it offers possibilities to track developments in public opinion over time, which is impossible with existing cross-sectional data. Second, it provides new possibilities for combining survey research with experimental research. The permanent panel administrated by researchers makes these possibilities accessible to a broader audience of researchers. The citizen panel also makes it possible to react swiftly to current events and launch quick surveys that examine public opinion with a representative sample.
The politician panel is a panel consisting of elected politicians, mainly from local level. To be able to track opinions among policy-makers will give researchers totally new tools for examining mechanisms underlying democratic decision-making, especially when combined with the citizen panel. The politician panel creates an unprecedented opportunity to study citizens and elected representatives simultaneously in Finland.
Financed by the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland, and conducted by Samforsk since 2002, the Barometer is a times series of socio-political surveys among the Swedish population of Finland. Moreover, mainly funded by the Ministry of Justice, Samforsk has conducted a special survey about public service in bilingual municipalities every four years since 2004, and the collaboration is set to continue. The survey has been part of the Report that the Government presents to the Finnish parliament on the application of language legislation.
Decision making labs
Since 2008 Turku University’s Decision Laboratory PCRClab is the oldest and the largest experimental decision making laboratory in Finland. During this time span circa 30 individual experimental studies have been completed, with nearly 300 individual experimental sessions and over 4000 participants. PCRClab hosts about 2000 registered volunteers who have signed up for experimental research in social sciences. With FIRIPO, the lab’s central infrastructure, including participant database, website, and computers, are developed and improved, providing a nicer user experience for both participants and researchers. Another, new decision making lab is situated in Tampere. The DMLab at TAU is a multi-function lab, which provides the facilities for both on-line deliberation experiments as well as decision-making experiments. Laboratories are also collaborating with Hanken School of Economics Helsinki LABBET.
The two new labs are situated at ÅAU and TAU. The lab at TAU is a multi-function lab, which has facilities for both on-line deliberation experiments as well as decision-making experiments. Both deliberation labs have permanent facilities equipped to conduct experimental research using small groups of discussants, also referred to as mini-publics. Mini-publics are randomly selected lay citizens, who come together to discuss a political issue, and, typically, to make a choice between two or more policy choices. The use of mini-publics in experimental social science has become widespread during the past approximately ten years. Through various experimental setups, scholars have used mini-publics to study e.g. how opinion formation is affected by differences in discussion contexts or between different political questions and how the mode of decision making affects discussion itself.