The dissertation examines how economic matters were depicted between 1770 and 1820 in two European kingdoms. Britain and Sweden are studied during this Age of Revolutions from the state’s perspective; state-managed newspapers are examined, one from Britain, the London Gazette, and two from Sweden, Stockholms Post-Tidningar and Inrikes Tidningar. These were stable types of media that transformed slowly alongside the changing popular press. State-managed newspapers were produced both to inform and manage the loyalty of populations. Aside from the continued development of the centralized state, this was also the time when Enlightenment ideals were spreading, the public sphere was transforming, notions of the nation and nationalism were developing, and communication strategies were changing; these concepts are the basis for the model of the development of modernity used in this study.
Economic matters are seen as existing in a value-realm model that gradually disintegrated over time, expressing the birth of the modern world. This model included political, social-cultural, and technological values, in addition to economic matters. This disintegration involved a sense of uniformity. In both Britain and Sweden, economic objects, practices, ideas, and discourses received similar treatments over time. This process was, however, non-linear and not complete by the dawn of industrial transformation.
The first two chapters discuss the theory and methodological approaches. The form, order, and content of the newspapers are analyzed to show how economic matters became separate or unembedded to varying degrees over a fifty-year time span. British and Swedish descriptions are compared, as well as how the other state was portrayed in the opposing newspapers. These observations are described in three empirical chapters, relating events and analyses from 1770 to 1775, 1790 to 1795, and 1815 to 1820.
The results of this dissertation show how early modern economic matters can be viewed beyond quantitative contents as an expression of becoming modern, offering complimentary context. Advances in thinking about data generated modern numerical indicators, also reflected by form and order qualities. The unembeddedness of economic matters was an ongoing and non-linear process that was expressed by increased abstractness, separation, and emphasis.