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Contract-workers in Swedish agriculture, c. 1890s – 1930s. A comparative study of standard of living and social status

Lundh, Christer LU and Olsson, Mats LU (2011) In Scandinavian Journal of History 36(3). p.298-323
Abstract
In the political and medial discourse of the 1930s the contract-work system (stat/ar/ systemet) was depicted as a relic of pre-modern society and contract-workers (statare) as the highly exploited lower class with no legal rights, low incomes, miserable housing conditions and a chaotic family life. This picture has dominated Swedish social history ever since, and the main argument of this article is that it has to be modified. With regard to the material standard of living, for example, employment terms, working conditions, wage levels and housing conditions, contract-workers were no worse off than other worker groups in the countryside. On the contrary, the contract-work system had its own rationality and advantages. It made it possible... (More)
In the political and medial discourse of the 1930s the contract-work system (stat/ar/ systemet) was depicted as a relic of pre-modern society and contract-workers (statare) as the highly exploited lower class with no legal rights, low incomes, miserable housing conditions and a chaotic family life. This picture has dominated Swedish social history ever since, and the main argument of this article is that it has to be modified. With regard to the material standard of living, for example, employment terms, working conditions, wage levels and housing conditions, contract-workers were no worse off than other worker groups in the countryside. On the contrary, the contract-work system had its own rationality and advantages. It made it possible for young couples without land or a croft to marry and establish their own household since housing was included in the payment, and the yearly employment and large proportion of in-kind payments provided income security. However, the political discourse of the 20th century was based on the growing importance of the town and industry. The more regulated employment conditions, higher wages and better housing for industrial and urban workers became the yardstick by which the contract-workers’ situation was judged. Agriculture was an economic sector in decline and the contract-work system appeared to be outdated. The abolition of the contract-work system in 1945 was definitive confirmation of the victory of modernity. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
standard of living, labour, statare, contract-workers, agriculture
in
Scandinavian Journal of History
volume
36
issue
3
pages
298 - 323
publisher
Routledge
external identifiers
  • wos:000294119300003
  • scopus:80051497778
ISSN
1502-7716
DOI
10.1080/03468755.2011.582620
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a3915ddb-86f5-40b9-894d-fb289547a40e (old id 2060749)
date added to LUP
2011-08-02 08:56:25
date last changed
2017-11-19 04:20:26
@article{a3915ddb-86f5-40b9-894d-fb289547a40e,
  abstract     = {In the political and medial discourse of the 1930s the contract-work system (stat/ar/ systemet) was depicted as a relic of pre-modern society and contract-workers (statare) as the highly exploited lower class with no legal rights, low incomes, miserable housing conditions and a chaotic family life. This picture has dominated Swedish social history ever since, and the main argument of this article is that it has to be modified. With regard to the material standard of living, for example, employment terms, working conditions, wage levels and housing conditions, contract-workers were no worse off than other worker groups in the countryside. On the contrary, the contract-work system had its own rationality and advantages. It made it possible for young couples without land or a croft to marry and establish their own household since housing was included in the payment, and the yearly employment and large proportion of in-kind payments provided income security. However, the political discourse of the 20th century was based on the growing importance of the town and industry. The more regulated employment conditions, higher wages and better housing for industrial and urban workers became the yardstick by which the contract-workers’ situation was judged. Agriculture was an economic sector in decline and the contract-work system appeared to be outdated. The abolition of the contract-work system in 1945 was definitive confirmation of the victory of modernity.},
  author       = {Lundh, Christer and Olsson, Mats},
  issn         = {1502-7716},
  keyword      = {standard of living,labour,statare,contract-workers,agriculture},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {298--323},
  publisher    = {Routledge},
  series       = {Scandinavian Journal of History},
  title        = {Contract-workers in Swedish agriculture, c. 1890s – 1930s. A comparative study of standard of living and social status},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03468755.2011.582620},
  volume       = {36},
  year         = {2011},
}