Introducing Teemu Rantanen, leader of the “Supporting socially marginalised groups with the use of digitalised services” sub-project.

Teemu Rantanen

Doctor of Political Science with a major in social psychology.
I am a principal lecturer at Laurea University of Applied Sciences. My main area of responsibility is to develop and coordinate the master’s degree programme in social services. I am also involved in projects, the most significant being the DigiIN project.
Supporting socially marginalised groups with the use of digitalised public services.

What are you currently doing within the DigiIN project?

I am currently analysing the results of a prison survey on the use of digital services. Particular points of interest include the various obstacles to using digital health care and social welfare services and the factors causing digital exclusion. One of the core issues is the connection between self-efficacy and the use of digital services.
Our research also looks into factors such as how the use of digital services is impacted by digital skills, attitudes, support from close ones, age and prison history.

What are the main objectives of the DigiIN project?

A particular challenge is posed by the groups of people who are already in a socially marginalised position. For example, older mental health rehabilitees and prisoners are clear risk groups from the perspective of digital inclusion. In their case, the digitalisation of health care and social welfare services can worsen social exclusion, unless special attention is paid to social and digital support.

What are the key topics for your focus area?

The key target groups of our focus area and research team are mental health and substance abuse rehabilitees and people with a history of crime. In our research, we aim to combine different approaches, such as interviews, surveys, observations and methods of user-driven development.
We are interested in both the client´s perspective and the employees’ competence and development. One of our core findings is the continued significance of face-to-face encounters and support even as services become more digitalised.
In addition, our results show that there are also significant differences in the digital capabilities of socially marginalised people. Some are very adept at using various digital systems, while others do not use digital services at all.

How do you see the future of digital services?

The digitalisation of services is a trend that will most likely continue in the future. It also makes services more accessible for many groups of people who otherwise have a hard time accessing them. Health care and social welfare services do still involve a lot of work that cannot be digitalised, at least not completely. So it is essential that the digitalisation of services is not only focused on economic effectiveness; most of all, we need to emphasise the quality of services as well as human encounters.

What digital service do you use yourself (in your work or in your leisure time) and could recommend to others?

I use a wide variety of electronic systems in my work, but not too many in my free time. All in all, I am not particularly enthusiastic about taking up new digital systems, and I would rather “bring up the rear” than be at the forefront.

Have you had problems with any of the digital services you are using – how did you solve the problem or how would you like to see the service develop?

I encounter problems with electronic systems almost weekly. But most of them can be solved by trying things out or asking for help from colleagues.

What do you do when you want to take a break from your research work?

In my free time, I like to get outside and stay physically active. Reading fiction is also a nice break from research. Covid has limited some of my hobbies, such as swimming.