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Arbete: Skillnadsskapande och försörjning i 1500-talets Sverige
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2012 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Work : Constructing Difference and Making a Living in Sixteenth-Century Sweden (English)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to explore work as an idea and a practice for the construction and maintenance of differences and power relations, and to examine what the consequences were for the individual and society in early modern Sweden. The period saw an expansion of the state apparatus which created numerous new opportunities for employment. There also exists a body of literature from this period, in the form of instructions relating to work and households. The thesis draws both on these instructions and descriptions and on sources produced by the crown.

The thesis shows that gender was a crucial factor for the organisation of work. Operating The service of the crown was characterised by two principal organisational forms: the household, and a precursor of a bureaucratic system. The household had its basis in the couple, and had a clear gendered division of power, the couple together constituted the management of the household, at the same time there was an element of male superordination. The other form was exclusively male and based on delegation of power within the organisation and on an attempt to formalise relations by written instructions.

The majority of the jobs created were held by men. In crafts and administration, men took over a number of female areas of competence. In this process was occupational positions created for these men. Women’s opportunities to work were heavily affected by an idea of a female area of expertise, ‘womenfolk’s work’ which never become specialiced, but the investigation also shows that work created in the crowns households in positions of leadership created livelihoods for married adult women. Among employees that were young and unmarried the similarities between the genders were often more striking than the differences. Greater differences emerge from a comparison of the entire workforce of the crown, which shows women’s annual wages to be 75 per cent of those of men. Overall women had few opportunities to make careers and get well paid employments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2012. , 261 p.
Studia historica Upsaliensia, ISSN 0081-6531 ; 246
Keyword [en]
work, gender, gender division of work, Sweden, sixteenth-century, household, specialisation, wages, early modern period, social history, skills, royal demesnes, women’s work, men’s work, Olaus Magnus, Hans Brask, Per Brahe, Gripsholm, Julita, Tynnelsö, Kalmar
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-182392ISBN: 978-91-554-8492-7OAI: diva2:559665
Public defence
2012-11-23, Universitetshuset, sal IX, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2012-11-01 Created: 2012-10-10 Last updated: 2014-10-02Bibliographically approved

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