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Women as labour hikers: Gender, labour migration and the dynamics of the transition to capitalism in rural Sweden, c. 1680-1800
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2013 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Life-cycle service in farm work is often considered to have been the dominant form of paid employment for women in pre-capitalist rural areas in Sweden. What did it mean, when other forms of income were preferred in some areas during the 18th century?

In the region of Dalecarlia (Dalarna) population growth and meagre agriculture, with fragmented land holdings, as well as long traditions of various additional sources of income, meant that it was close at hand to seek incomes through seasonal labour and sales journeys. Although traditionally mostly men wandered off, women gradually participated more during the 18th century. Female labour from Dalecarlia contributed to increasing numbers of wage workers, e.g. in textile proto industrial areas.

Why did seasonally migrating women (and men) from Dalecarlia prefer returning to home annually? One hypothesis is that the scattered land ownership, as a result of inheritance practices including the distribution of land among all children, regardless of gender, meant that everyone “had something to return to”. In Dalecarlia, women’s seasonal labour migration, as well as e.g. tasks in livestock farming, was part of a practice where everyone – regardless of gender, civil status or age –worked for their sustenance, in agriculture and in various subsidiary industries. This is also an important overall result in the Gender and Work project, valid for all of early modern Sweden, which I discuss further in my paper.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
gender, Sweden, Dalecarlia, migration, labour, 18th c.
National Category
History and Archaeology
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-230711OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-230711DiVA: diva2:741440
'Women's Histories: The Local and the Global': International Federation for Research in Women's History
The gender division of labor and the importance of mobility in early modern small-scale agriculture
Available from: 2014-08-28 Created: 2014-08-28 Last updated: 2014-08-28

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Fiebranz, Rosemarie
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