Cost of freedom? The Material Conditions of the Emergence of Civil Society in Sweden during the 19th century

Participants: Anne Berg, Samuel Edquist
Funding body: Swedish Research Council
Duration: 2018-2020

The purpose with this project is to explain the rise and evolution of voluntary associations in Sweden, thus a civil society, by analysing their material conditions from 1800 to 1880. To investigate this the researchers will  construct a database over the strategies and types of resource allocation for the bourgeois and worker and/or  popular associations in Stockholm, Norrköping, Malmö and Göteborg 1800–1880. This will enable us to answer  questions on the composition and roles of different types of private incomes (e.g. donations, membership fees  and enterprises) with possible forms of support from the state (e.g. subsidies and infrastructural support). We  will also be able to compare bourgeois and worker/popular associations' economic organisation, and trace  changes in their strategies over time. The researchers are applying for three years of funding (2018–2020) for  75 percent of their working time. This is due to the fact that the majority of the source material needed to  construct the database comes in the form of handwritten protocols and audit reports. The material conditions of  voluntary associations is an under-analysed area in the history of the rise of civil society. The majority of the  explanations have focused on factors such as the spread of a market economy, the formation of modern social  classes and the non-interventionist nature of the state. By doing a study that focuses on the material conditions,  we want to offer a new explanatory perspective.