Finland as a “Light Beacon” for Serbian Digital Imaginaries: The New Forms of Digital Divide – Who Cares?


Finland represents a digital society developed on digi-technological imperatives and imaginaries, and with a young generation that is considered as ”digital natives” with competences and opportunities to highly benefit digitalization in their life-courses. However, statistics still show ”digital divide” and unequal socio-material stratification among them. The project DEQUAL (Academy of Finland, 2020–2024) has been established to capture mechanisms that produce digital social inequality among youth. In the project we analyze, besides the sociologically “traditional” structural factors, also practices of youth’s digital cultures. How all these impact unequal divides at youth’s regional life-spheres and digital environments, and have both societal and life-course consequences?

In the project, an excursion is made to Serbia that is seeking her ways and resources to become a highly digitalized society as well. In this, Serbia is leaning on different international networks and organizations. It seems that Finland is an important reference and example for the Serbian authorities in their developmental work. In this presentation we will focus on the significance of Finland as a forerunner within the contemporary digital imaginaries of Serbia. Our analysis is based on both state-level documents from Serbia and interviews of educational authorities whose work focuses on developing digitalization of Serbian formal education. We analyze how the Finnish reality of youth’s digital social inequality is taken into account in these imaginaries – or is it paid attention to at all?

Päivi Armila & Biljana Stankovic