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Till ömsesidig nytta: Entreprenörer, framgång och sociala relationer i centrala Jämtland ca. 1810-1850
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2011 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to analyse the mutual impact which social relations and entrepreneurship had in relation to the success of four actors in a rural area in northern Sweden at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Many Swedish scholars have studied the process of social differentiation, before the industrial revolution. However, we still know very little about the forces behind this process, why some peasant households became more successful than others, especially during the first half of the nineteenth century when the economic differences were increasing. To grasp this process, the notion of social position has been used as a tool to grade the population on a scale from low- to high-ranked households in an economic and political sense.

The fact that households were more or less successful turns our attention to the ability among individuals and households to change their social position. A theoretical concept chosen to investigate such change is the notion of entrepreneur, which implies a focus on the actor working for personal profit in a changing economic world.

The main question has been how important social relations connected to entrepreneurship are in order to promote success among peasant households in the pre-industrial society. The empirical investigation has been conducted on two different levels. The first level is a structural study analysing the physical landscape of the court district of Rödön, the economic stratification and the political activity of the population in the area and, finally, their economic behaviours as peasants and rural businessmen. The second is a qualitative study emphasising on four individual actors: the businessman Per Wikström in the town of Östersund and three of the most successful peasant households in the region.

The four case studies reveal that the rural elite had a pragmatic and dynamic approach to choosing social relations outside the family. Many acquaintances grew persistent and embedded in family or kinship relations, whereas others were short-lived or sacrificed for a calculated economic gain.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2011. , 361 p.
Studia Historica Upsaliensia, ISSN 0081-6531 ; 243
Keyword [en]
Peasant, entrepreneur, businessman, carreer, political elite, social position, social capital, social network, trust, distrust, social relation, family, kin, kinship, symbolic kinship, godparent, friendship, acquaintance, household, farming, peddling, trade, industrialisation, credit, 19th century, Sweden, Rödön court district, agrarian history, economic history, social history, social differentiation, micro perspective, qualitative method.
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-158684ISBN: 978-91-554-8153-7OAI: diva2:441229
Public defence
2011-10-21, X, Universitetshuset, 75310, Uppsala, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2011-09-30 Created: 2011-09-13 Last updated: 2016-05-09Bibliographically approved

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Olofsson, Sven
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Department of History

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