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Nöden har en lag: Fattigvård i 1800-talets Västerås
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2017 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The general purpose of this master thesis is to review and judge how Sweden's intricate social care system was composed and applied during the late 19th century. Observations will be made how the care system was interpreted in a local context. How was the system altered over time? Who was defined as poor and eligible for support, and if so, why?

The thesis will focus on the period 1860‒1879, in many ways an era of political and social change in Sweden. Such changes are better reflected in an urban environment, rather than the rural. With its geographical setting in central Sweden, the city of Västerås provided a good choice. Here, a rich and unique array of social records from the time was available at the city archives.  

Earlier academic research in the social field plays an important part of this paper. Thus, representations of the social work in the cities of Göteborg, Norrköping and Skellefteå are introduced, in the hope they should bring about a wider understanding of poor relief work in cities of other sizes and regions.

The times they are a-changin’ - and entailed quite a few political, economic and social dramas for the country. Responsibility for care and relief of the poor passed over from the parish, a centuries-old administrative entity ruled by the church, into secular hands following a reform law passed in 1862. Now the commune was created, to be ruled by a city council composed of merchants, artisans and the general bourgeoisie. Sweden also saw a constitutional change when a bicameral parliament was created in 1866. While the applicable poor relief law had been in force since 1853, a new and in fact stricter law was introduced in 1871. These countrywide statutes and regulations were material and came to influence the life of many Swedes.

The thesis concludes that the city´s handling of the poor constituted an ethical dilemma, rooted in a definition of worthy or unworthy poor people. This distinction arose partly from the statutes of the law, partly from the city’s domestic norms and beliefs. The elderly, and minors above all, were always considered worthy and duly provided for, while the poor fellow coded unworthy stood a risk to be refused aid, perhaps even to be arrested due to his lack of will or means to support himself and his family. All things considered, the system however left nobody to perish by poverty.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , p. 89
Keywords [en]
19th century, history, economic history, local history, social care, welfare, poor law, Västerås, Göteborg, Norrköping, Skellefteå
Keywords [sv]
1800‒talet, historia, ekonomisk historia, lokal historia, social omvårdnad, välfärd, fattigdom, fattigvård, Västerås, Göteborg, Norrköping, Skellefteå
National Category
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-331634OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-331634DiVA, id: diva2:1149572
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Available from: 2018-03-28 Created: 2017-10-16 Last updated: 2018-03-28Bibliographically approved

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