Monthly Archives: October 2019

Reflections upon ‘Domestic production and work in poor British homes, c. 1650-1850’

by Dr. Joseph Harley (University of Derby) On 12 September 2019, the University of Derby welcomed speakers and delegates for a conference on domestic work during the long eighteenth century. The event was sold out and papers discussed a wide range of themes, such as brewing, dairying, spinning, knitting and fuel use. Our most detailed understanding of domestic production still comes from the study of the middling sort and elite, and much less research has been conducted on the domestic activities of poorer people. The conference sought to address this issue by bringing in a range of researchers who work on a wide range of topics. Through this, we were able to look at the home in a more holistic manner and develop a more comprehensive understanding of the relative importance of different types of domestic production and work in poor British households. The event was very well received by delegates and received much praise. It was publicised on Twitter and used the hashtag #DomesticWorkDerby. Tweets from the conference have been assembled here. O’Connell: Estimates of 13.5 million pairs of stockings per annum required in 1619 (3 new pairs each). #domesticworkderby — Louise Falcini (@louisefalcini) September 12, 2019 The first […]

Egalitarian Swedes?

by Dr. Erik Bengtsson (Lund University) In March 2016, I gave a short course at the University of Sao Paulo on ”The Origins and Development of Swedish Egalitarianism”. Having worked on Swedish historical income and wealth inequality for some years, I was giving a course on Swedish history, and I thought this was a topic that could be of interest. Because, when presenting results on Swedish income or wealth distribution for an international audience, there is a more or less fixed set of assumptions/ideas about Swedish history and society than one must address to make the discussion intelligible (or interesting?) for non-Swedes. They are, roughly: “Everyone is [was] a Social Democrat there”. “It was always a society of free farmers, without feudalism”. “Lutheranism created Social Democracy”. “Farmers created Social Democracy”. What these different formulations have in common is the idea that Sweden was somehow always different, more egalitarian, meaning any 20th century achievements in terms of egalitarianism and social cohesion is “just” a continuation of a much older history. These assumptions are not often formulated directly and developed (but Bo Stråth explicitly uses the concept of a Sonderweg to analyse the Swedish case, and Eva Österberg and her students argue […]