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Under the Landlord's Thumb. Municipalities and Local Elites in Sweden 1862-1900

Uppenberg, Carolina LU and Olsson, Mats LU (2021) In Lund Papers in Economic History
Abstract
The Swedish Municipality Act, issued in 1862, consolidated a plutocratic system in which
ownership and income, and the resulting level of taxation, translated into political power.
However, as a measure to hinder large landowners from holding a majority of the votes, the
Act guaranteed voting rights for tenants. The aim of the article is to analyse how power
relations played out after this challenge to landlords’ hegemony. Through an analysis of
tenants’ contracts, appeals to the King in Council and minutes from municipal board
meetings, we show how landlords did not trust a political culture of deference to secure
power, even if they had demanded subservience in contracts. In a deliberate and specific... (More)
The Swedish Municipality Act, issued in 1862, consolidated a plutocratic system in which
ownership and income, and the resulting level of taxation, translated into political power.
However, as a measure to hinder large landowners from holding a majority of the votes, the
Act guaranteed voting rights for tenants. The aim of the article is to analyse how power
relations played out after this challenge to landlords’ hegemony. Through an analysis of
tenants’ contracts, appeals to the King in Council and minutes from municipal board
meetings, we show how landlords did not trust a political culture of deference to secure
power, even if they had demanded subservience in contracts. In a deliberate and specific way,
they also reserved voting rights for themselves, which we find to have been a widespread
pattern although it was repeatedly pointed out as illegal by the King in Council. However,
through the analysis of the board meetings, it becomes clear that the position of manorial
landlords in these municipalities was so obvious that they rarely had to confront their tenants
with their illegal contractual restrictions. The results empirically challenge a narrative of slow
but steady democratization and theoretically challenge the alleged reciprocity of landlordtenant relations.
(Less)
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author
and
organization
publishing date
type
Working paper
publication status
published
subject
keywords
landlord, tenant farmer, municipality, Swedish Municipality Act, 1862, deference, local politics, voting rights, political culture, N43, N53, N93
in
Lund Papers in Economic History
issue
2021:218
pages
25 pages
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
0d6da33a-b311-4dc4-aa4b-a29fde36ee3a
date added to LUP
2021-02-08 13:46:46
date last changed
2021-02-08 13:46:46
@misc{0d6da33a-b311-4dc4-aa4b-a29fde36ee3a,
  abstract     = {The Swedish Municipality Act, issued in 1862, consolidated a plutocratic system in which<br/>ownership and income, and the resulting level of taxation, translated into political power.<br/>However, as a measure to hinder large landowners from holding a majority of the votes, the<br/>Act guaranteed voting rights for tenants. The aim of the article is to analyse how power<br/>relations played out after this challenge to landlords’ hegemony. Through an analysis of<br/>tenants’ contracts, appeals to the King in Council and minutes from municipal board<br/>meetings, we show how landlords did not trust a political culture of deference to secure<br/>power, even if they had demanded subservience in contracts. In a deliberate and specific way,<br/>they also reserved voting rights for themselves, which we find to have been a widespread<br/>pattern although it was repeatedly pointed out as illegal by the King in Council. However,<br/>through the analysis of the board meetings, it becomes clear that the position of manorial<br/>landlords in these municipalities was so obvious that they rarely had to confront their tenants<br/>with their illegal contractual restrictions. The results empirically challenge a narrative of slow<br/>but steady democratization and theoretically challenge the alleged reciprocity of landlordtenant relations.<br/>},
  author       = {Uppenberg, Carolina and Olsson, Mats},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Working Paper},
  number       = {2021:218},
  series       = {Lund Papers in Economic History},
  title        = {Under the Landlord's Thumb. Municipalities and Local Elites in Sweden 1862-1900},
  url          = {https://lup.lub.lu.se/search/ws/files/90980605/LUPEH_218.pdf},
  year         = {2021},
}