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Browsing by Author "Kurki, Siru"

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  • Kurki, Siru (2022)
    The topic of this master’s thesis is urban poverty in Helsinki in 1893-1900. This study examines the living conditions of the poor and what resources they lacked. The reasons behind poverty are also discussed. Previous studies of poverty are used in order to study poverty in Helsinki. Themes in this study include, for example, the reasons behind poverty, and whose fault it was. The primary source for the analysis is letters that were sent to a charity organisation called Föreningen för välgorenhetens ordnande (F.V.O.), as well as notes from the employees. The focus is on eight files. Additionally, there will be a shorter quantitative study of 294 files (from files 2-2935) which will give us an overview of the time and a better understanding of the overall profile of a poor seeking for help from the organisation. The files for the quantitative part have been selected by systematic sampling, every tenth file is part of the study. The number of the people seeking for help, their occupations, reasons for seeking help, and help received are all topics of interest in the quantitative part. The main method of research is, however, content analysis. The eight files will be studied through this technique. In the qualitative part the main research topics are: The reasons behind poverty, and the living conditions of the poor. From the study we can conclude that there were multiple factors behind poverty. Sickness, unemployment, large families, widowhood, and inherited poverty were all reasons behind poverty. The reasons varied between people and years. Unemployment and sickness seemed to accelerate each other, and it is not clear whether sickness caused poverty or whether poverty caused sickness. Poverty did cause lack of resources which made them seek help. Some of the main reasons for seeking help were the general need for help, unemployment, lack of material goods, and lack of monetary resources. Small and cramped apartments, lack of food, clothing and firewood were common problems for the urban poor in Helsinki. Living in tight quarters also deteriorated their health. Low income did not give enough food security and they pawned their clothes regularly to ease the burden for a moment. Both the letters and the notes from F.V.O.-employees tell the same story about the conditions of the poor. The poor themselves probably used different rhetorical methods to further their agenda, because the charity organisation had its own values, even though this particular organisation gave help liberally. The research results tell us that the poor lacked many resources in their lives. Living in cramped apartments, and lacking food and clothing, plagued the urban poor population of Helsinki. The reasons behind poverty were multiple and varied, although unemployment and sickness were the largest reasons and further deepened poverty. Due to limited material, we cannot draw universal conclusions on urban poverty in Helsinki, let alone nationwide. The results did, however, have similarities with studies done on urban poverty in Tampere and in Europe in general.