Gender and Work

What happened to the two-supporter model? Marriage and servanthood in Sweden 1720–1880

The first part of the Gender and Work project demonstrated the significance of marriage to people’s sustenance and everyday activities in the early modern society. Our study of concrete practices of work showed that

  • early modern Sweden was based on the idea and reality of a two-supporter-model; both husband and wife worked and contributed to their common livelihood
  • the difference between what married and unmarried people did was more notable than the difference between women and men
  • marriage was a source of authority and resources to both women and men

These, and other, results are elaborated in the book Making a living, making a difference.

In the second part of the project, we study what happened to these pattern in the transition from early modern to the society.

  • Did the significance of the two-supporter model persist?
  • Did people’s ways of making a living still reflect their marital status?
  • Did the difference between men’s and women’s sustenance practices increase?
  • How did this relate to changing ideals?

Read the project application

Focus: Västmanland 1720–1880

The transition from early modern to modern society involved great changes, not least regarding people’s ways of making a living, work and gender. The verb-oriented method gives unique opportunities to study these changes in people´s everyday life. By combining the level of detail with a long-term perspective, and by using the same method and the same type of sources in the study of both modern and early modern society, we are able to give new and valuable insights into both continuities and changes during the nineteenth century.

The area of investigation: the hundreds of
Snevringe and Tuhundra, and the town of
Västerås, in Västmanland.

Since the question of change is at the centre of attention, the geographical scope of the investigation must be limited. (By contrast, the first part of the project studied Sweden as a whole.) Limitation in space also makes it possible to collect more data about individuals. For this purpose, we have chosen an area in Västmanland, around Västerås, as a suitable area.