Social Organization. Prior to the nineteenth century Finnish society was divided into peasants ( talonpojat ), burghers, clergy, and nobility. Subsequent economic change fostered the wane of the clergy and nobility and an expansion of entrepreneurial and working classes. In recent decades considerable social mobility and an egalitarian ethos have emerged with increasing economic prosperity, progressive Social welfare, an open educational system, and consensus Politics. While Finns themselves may not always recognize clear economic class divisions, they are likely to be conscious of status attached to educational and honorific titles and to political-party affiliations. From an external view, the Currently unfolding class system includes: farmers; working class (nonrural manual laborers) ; petite bourgeoisie (shopowners, small entrepreneurs) ; lower middle class (lower-income Service sector); upper middle class (higher-income white-collar professionals); and upper class (corporate owners and managers).
Political Organization. The administrative district or commune ( maalaiskunta ) is a locale embodying a sense of community and self-identification for its residents. It often coincides with the historically deeper church parish, and it is a local unit of self-government that generally collects taxes, regulates economic affairs, and maintains public order. Every four years a communal council is elected to manage local affairs. Much of a council's work is implemented by a communal board comprised of members appointed to reflect the council's political-party composition. With as many as a dozen political parties in Finland, kunta government is sometimes represented by opposing coalitions of socialist and nonsocialist party interests.
Sodai Control. The institution of a village-governing alderman was part of the authoritarian moral environment in the dense rural settlements of southern and western Finland. Village fight groups and fights ( kylätappelut ) were ritualized conflicts, sometimes associated with weddings, which integrated communities via rivalry relationships. In the sparsely settled eastern interior, social life was more individualistic and social control less formal. In contemporary Finnish Society, independent courts and centrally organized police forces maintain public order.
Conflict. Finland's historical position as a frontier of colonization, military incursion, and subordination to external contesting empires is part of the Finnish collective conscience. Strategic victories by Finnish troops against invading Soviet forces during the "Winter War" of 1939-1940 are symbolically integral to the lore and identity of many Finns. By contrast, the "reign of terror" following Finland's civil war of 1917-1918 profoundly polarized the Finnish middle classes and working classes, with the latter remaining especially alienated and embittered.