Interview with Osmo Kontula .

Author:Brak-Lamy, Guadalupe

Osmo Kontula is Research Professor at The Population Research Institute, Family Federation of Finland since 1998. Professor Kontula is also Secretary General of the European Federation of Sexology (EFS). Dr. Kontula is a member of Scientific Committee and in the Sexuality Education Standards Working Committee of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) and he is a member of the Advisory Board in the Archive for Sexology in Berlin.

Osmo Kontula was a Member of Board of Directors in the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS); 1999-2002 and Chair of International Task Force Committee, The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), 2000-2005. He was President of The Nordic Association for Clinical Sexology (NACS), 2001-2003. Dr. Kontula was associate Professor, Medical Sociology, at the Department of Public Health of the University of Helsinki from 1996 to 1997; Senior Researcher of the National Crime Prevention Council of the Finnish Ministry of Justice in 1995; Research Director of the Department of Public Health at the University of Helsinki between 1991 and 1994; Research Fellow of the Academy of Finland from 1986 to 1990.

Research Professor Kontula has been involved with sex research and active in sexological organizations for the past 20 years. He has authored over 280 publications and almost 50 books and presented more than 60 papers in international conferences. For the last ten years he has been a member of expert groups in the European Union in both quantitative and qualitative sex research and population issues, and a consultant of European Population Committee in sexual and reproductive health issues.

Dr. Kontula's fields of expertise are: Sexology, sexual science, sex education, sexual and reproductive health, cultural differences in sexual issues, adolescent sexuality, couple relationships, family, the impact of aging on human sexual activity, population and sexual policies, fertility, demographic behaviour and public health.

The work of Osmo Kontula is very important for social sciences because it reveals the discursive level in the construction of representations of people of different ages (generations) related to thematics like sexual identity, sexual education, sexual well being and sexual health, sexual relationships, couple formation, marriage and divorce, the impact of aging on human sexual desire and activity. Through his work are analysed rules and scripts that govern social interaction and help to understand the issues mentioned above and others like, for example, the process of sexual risk taking.

Within the following interview Osmo Kontula talks about his researches and their relevance for the social sciences. He also talks about the present reception of his work in Finland and about the changes on the construction of femininity and masculinity in that country, giving some advice for the development of a career related to the sexuality subject.

1--As a sociologist, when did you become interested in the sexual subject?

Sexuality has been a special interest for the whole of my life but as a sociologist the first kick for a sexual study came when I was still a sociology student at the University of Helsinki. My Professor at the time, Elina Haavio-Mannila, asked me after a sex role seminar if I would be interested to collect data on the sexual behaviours and values of the students at University of Helsinki. She had received a grant from a Foundation to study associations between alcohol consumption and sexual activities. I was happy to join this project and I conducted a data collection and finally wrote my master thesis in 1984 based on that survey data with title "Sexual Morals of the students at the University of Helsinki".

During this study process I was also in contact with Professor Matti Rimpela at the Department of Public Health. He had a plan to conduct surveys of adolescent sexual issues and I was able to join also that project and to conduct the first regional pilot sex survey in 1983 among the school children. In 1986 started a KISS-study project of adolescent sexuality...

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