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Reconsidering the Role of Farmer Politics in Swedish Democratization

Bengtsson, Erik LU (2019) In Lund Papers in Economic History. General Issues
Abstract
In discussions of Scandinavian democratization, it is commonplace to argue that long- standing farmer representation in parliament and a lack of feudalism encouraged a democratic-participatory civic culture within the peasant farmer class – or perhaps in the population as a whole. The present essay questions this interpretation in the Swedish case. It centers on a re-interpretation of farmer politics at the national level from a two-chamber system of representation after the 1866-67 reform to the alliance between the farmers’ party and Social Democracy in 1933 and offers a new analytical account of the way that one class’s attitude to democratic inclusion can change over time, owing to changed political and economic relationships to other... (More)
In discussions of Scandinavian democratization, it is commonplace to argue that long- standing farmer representation in parliament and a lack of feudalism encouraged a democratic-participatory civic culture within the peasant farmer class – or perhaps in the population as a whole. The present essay questions this interpretation in the Swedish case. It centers on a re-interpretation of farmer politics at the national level from a two-chamber system of representation after the 1866-67 reform to the alliance between the farmers’ party and Social Democracy in 1933 and offers a new analytical account of the way that one class’s attitude to democratic inclusion can change over time, owing to changed political and economic relationships to other classes. I show that Swedish farmers did not organize themselves independently of nobles and land-owners until the 1920s, and that they did not play the role of an independent pro-democratic force. On the contrary, the broad-based organizations of farmers in the 1920s and 1930s, with their democratic, participatory culture, appear to have been heavily influenced by the political culture of liberals and the labor movement, which in democratic society opened the door to a re-shaping of Swedish farmer politics that abandoned the old (subservient) alliance with estate owners. It was not
democratic farmers who gave rise to Social Democracy – rather, it was Social Democracy that caused farmers to become democratic. Understanding farmer politics correctly also opens up a new understanding of the determinants of Swedish democratization.
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Working Paper
publication status
published
subject
keywords
democratization, agrarian politics, Sweden, class structure, farmers, Sonderweg, N53, N54, P16, H10
in
Lund Papers in Economic History. General Issues
issue
2019:205
pages
32 pages
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
041cb6ef-dadb-465f-83f4-a205d6560cd6
date added to LUP
2019-08-21 15:54:39
date last changed
2019-08-21 15:54:39
@misc{041cb6ef-dadb-465f-83f4-a205d6560cd6,
  abstract     = {In discussions of Scandinavian democratization, it is commonplace to argue that long- standing farmer representation in parliament and a lack of feudalism encouraged a democratic-participatory civic culture within the peasant farmer class – or perhaps in the population as a whole. The present essay questions this interpretation in the Swedish case. It centers on a re-interpretation of farmer politics at the national level from a two-chamber system of representation after the 1866-67 reform to the alliance between the farmers’ party and Social Democracy in 1933 and offers a new analytical account of the way that one class’s attitude to democratic inclusion can change over time, owing to changed political and economic relationships to other classes. I show that Swedish farmers did not organize themselves independently of nobles and land-owners until the 1920s, and that they did not play the role of an independent pro-democratic force. On the contrary, the broad-based organizations of farmers in the 1920s and 1930s, with their democratic, participatory culture, appear to have been heavily influenced by the political culture of liberals and the labor movement, which in democratic society opened the door to a re-shaping of Swedish farmer politics that abandoned the old (subservient) alliance with estate owners. It was not<br/>democratic farmers who gave rise to Social Democracy – rather, it was Social Democracy that caused farmers to become democratic. Understanding farmer politics correctly also opens up a new understanding of the determinants of Swedish democratization.<br/>},
  author       = {Bengtsson, Erik},
  keyword      = {democratization,agrarian politics,Sweden, class structure,farmers,Sonderweg,N53,N54,P16,H10},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Working Paper},
  number       = {2019:205},
  pages        = {32},
  series       = {Lund Papers in Economic History. General Issues },
  title        = {Reconsidering the Role of Farmer Politics in Swedish Democratization},
  year         = {2019},
}