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”Alla mina bemödanden hafva strandat emot okunnigheten, lågheten och egennyttan”: Hur allmogen beskrevs av provinsialläkare i Sverige 1840–1900 och fyra funktioner av dessa beskrivningar
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas.
2012 (Swedish)In: Lychnos, ISSN 0076-1648, 33-52 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article uses the yearly reports written by Swedish provincial doctors between 1840 and 1900 to discern these doctors’ view of their main patient group, the peasantry. It shows that the doctors habitually portrayed the rural population as fatalistic and ignorant. This description appears dubious, however, in the light that the peasantry was said to be ignorant due to their practice of hiring quacks to treat disease, and fatalistic since they did not care to treat disease at all. On accounts that a fatalistic population hardly could support extensive quackery, this portrayal of the peasantry is partly understood as a strategy with beneficial effects for the provincial doctor. Four different functions have been discerned. If the peasantry was seen as ignorant and fatalistic, any resistance towards unpopular interventions enforced by the provincial doctor, such as forbidding large funerals for those who died in contagious diseases, could be disregarded. All difficulties the provincial doctor had with establishing the trust of his patients could be understood as struggles against ignorance rather than personal failures. The demands the provincial doctor would make to his superiors in his yearly report for increased funds would seem reasonable in the light of his daunting tasks. And in contrast to the peasantry, the doctor could present himself as a rational and active figure, struggling against difficult conditions in order to bring health and cleanliness to the countryside.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. 33-52 p.
National Category
Research subject
History of Sciences and Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-186112OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-186112DiVA: diva2:572513
Available from: 2012-11-28 Created: 2012-11-28 Last updated: 2015-09-30Bibliographically approved

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Drakman, Annelie
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