The 1950s is often presented as the Happy Days between the WW II and the radical 1960s. Research project "Happy Days?" will deconstruct that nostalgia by providing a more complex picture of the 1950s. The project has been set up in the Department of History and Ethnology of University of Jyväskylä. Since 2013 the project is administrated by the Department of European Ethnology at the University of Helsinki. It will introduce new tools of analyses and a model of fruitful cross institutional co-operation between universities and museums as research institutes. Museum collections of the Finnish Labour Museum Werstas and the Finnish Agricultural Museum Sarka are used as source material for research and the results of this study will be exhibited in a museum exhibition produced by the museums. The project is an attempt to start a new era in Finnish ethnology with high-quality interdisciplinary research in co-operation with museums.
In the 1950s, several macro-level developments took place in Finland e.g. in the working life, domestic sphere, gender roles, immigration and the consumerism affecting directly to the everyday life of Finnish people. This project is interested in every day life experiences and processes of remembering and presenting people's experiences of modernizing Finland of 1950s. The project will introduce a new periodization, "the extended 1950s", which aims at deconstructing popular images and finding new approaches to the close past. The concept "extended 1950s" challenges former periodizations which left 1950s in the shadow of the dramatic 1940s and the radical 1960s. The new concept will help to understand the changes that took place in the Finnish Society of those decades. Looking this time in-between, it is possible to see how new phenomena intermingled with older structures and mentalities, laying ground to the revolutionary future.
In this project, collaboration between researchers and museums starts from the very early stage of research allowing new research settings and use of materials, and encouraging a critical stance towards earlier research and representations of the past. The aim of this project is to critically explore the processes of representing and remembering the 1950s thereby benefiting the work of the museums.