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Raffinerade rum: Bensinstationer och precisionskultur i Sverige 1926-1956
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Art History.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6218-4966
2012 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

International petrol companies established themselves in Sweden in the mid-1920s and took control of the petrol trade in a manner that, within a relatively short space of time, left a clear imprint on the natural and built environments. The absence of petrol stations from the narrative of modern architecture raises questions about how this type of building should be understood. In the development of modernity, ideas about technology are an important driving force, and how this is visualised in the Swedish petrol trade forms a starting point in the thesis Refined space – petrol stations and culture of precision in Sweden, 1926–1956. Another issue addressed in the thesis is how its technological expressions have changed and been renegotiated and how they are living on. The study can be described as a reverse engineering, which involves attempting to observe the petrol station in a manner that lifts the obscuring veil of the everyday. To enable this, a hypothetical value structure, referred to as culture of precision, has been included. This is used as an expanding horizon of understanding which makes it possible to interpret and illustrate the visual representations of the petrol trade. The term appears primarily in the context of technological advertising and describes the perfectionist team spirit required to achieve an ambitious goal.

 Technology embodied in petrol stations conveys complex values, even if, through everyday use, they may seem to be natural and self-evident. In my approach, there is also a gender perspective, in that the masculinising technology is not regarded as natural. The emphasis on the early business activities when the petrol trade was being established is also important, as various strategies can be singled out more easily when they are being introduced. The study shows that petrol’s narrative characteristics have been used by petrol companies in their marketing to give the abstract, liquid fuel meaning and identity. This produced history has probably contributed to petrol in particular being more firmly embedded in culture than alternative sources of energy, such as electricity and ethanol. Viewing petrol as a cultural commodity can also increase the possibility of understanding why it is so hard to switch from using fossil fuels.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Nordiska museets förlag, 2012. , 240 p.
, Nordiska museets handlingar, ISSN 0346-8585 ; 138
Keyword [en]
Service stations, gas stations, petrol stations, filling stations, culture of precision
Keyword [sv]
Bensinstationer, precisionskultur, visuell kultur
National Category
Humanities Architecture
Research subject
History of Art
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-168137ISBN: 978-91-7108-549-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-168137DiVA: diva2:490672
Public defence
2012-03-02, Ihresalen, Engelska parken, Uppsala, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2012-02-10 Created: 2012-02-06 Last updated: 2016-06-27

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Wilson, Olle
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