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Vårt fredliga samhälle: ”Lösdriveri” och försvarslöshet i Sverige under 1830-talet
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2016 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Between 1664 and 1885 labour in Sweden was regulated by compulsory-service statutes. Able-bodied but idle persons could be compelled to submit to em­ployment as a servant. Compulsory service was part of a larger system of laws and regulations that regulated mobility, settlement, begging, and poor relief, all of which aimed at restricting the labouring poor’s freedom and agency. Some parts of this system had medieval roots, such as vagrancy laws. From the per­spective of the propertied classes, this system of interacting regulations served several purposes, such as fighting idleness, labour shortage, high wages, begging, demands for poor relief, unwanted settlement in the parishes, and geographical movement. The obligation to serve was abolished in 1885. Failure to comply with these service statutes was punishable by being treated as a ‘vagrant’, which could mean being jailed in a house of correction, or simply being ordered to find employment within a specific time. In short, it was illegal to be without work or other means of supporting oneself, such as property.

The purpose of this thesis is to analyse the social practices of the compulsory-service statutes and related issues such as mobility and settlement. The thesis has dealt with four areas of inquiry: the judicial framework, the policing of ‘vagrancy’, in what situations people were exempt from having to comply with the compulsory service statues, and the identity of the ‘vagrant’. The system for dealing with ‘vagrancy’ has left a large number of sources, and different sources give different images of the poor. This applies most clearly in the case of the Swedish Romani population, the Resande. 

The thesis deals with the county (län) of Västmanland during the 1830s. It highlights how the compulsory-service statutes and related vagrancy laws shaped the lives of people and points to how these institutions restricted poor people’s agency and formed their experiences.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2016. , 545 p.
Studia Historica Upsaliensia, ISSN 0081-6531 ; 254
Keyword [en]
vagrancy, labour laws, compulsory service, labouring poor, policing, jails, begging, settlement, belonging, Romani people, Sweden, 19th century, internal passports
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-280292ISBN: 978-91-554-9505-3OAI: diva2:910536
Public defence
2016-04-29, Geijersalen 6-1023 Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3 H, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-04-08 Created: 2016-03-09 Last updated: 2016-04-12

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