Abstract

This article examines how a specific questionnaire activity, originally created by the National Museum of Finland and produced between 1956 and 1996, affected the way traditional culture is understood. The article analyzes the questionnaire in terms of the objectives that guided the activity and the ways in which these booklets reflected the practices of ethnological research. Having been initiated and collected by one of the country's leading cultural institutions, the questionnaire material could be interpreted as an expression of institutionalized cultural heritage.

Within the overall framework of societal and disciplinary change, these cultural symbols reflect the ways in which cultural objects are given significance and meaning. In the Finnish context, the idealized and homogenized rural setting was an essential aspect of the questionnaire for a long time. The most significant changes happened gradually, most particularly during the 1980s when there were changes in the questionnaire themes and in the ways in which respondents were expected to describe the phenomena in focus.

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