Arbetslöshetsfrågan i historisk belysning : en diskussion om arbetslöshet och social politik i Sverige 1830-1920
Sammanfattning: Labour market policy has been at the forefront of economic and political debate in Sweden during the postwar period. Much research effort has been focused on the evolution of labour market policy and its historical roots. The time-perspective has often been narrow, however, and has very seldom extended to include the period prior to the first two decades of the twentieth century. This study emphasises the important part played by nineteenth century political and social events in the genesis of modern labour market policy and the Swedish "work principle". It is argued here that the first steps towards the development of this policy were taken during the 1830s and 1840s. Unemployment became a social threat during the rapid social and economic changes of the nineteenth century, making measures for relieving unemployment an important task. This may be explained by the rise of liberalism in Swedish politics, a development which reflected the structural transformation taking place in the nation at that time. Changes in the agricultural sector, social differentiation and rapid population growth necessitated a more flexible labour market. Policies changed, and mercantilist restraints were abolished. The appearance of free-market structures and wage-dependent groups gave new meaning to the word "unemployment" and to the social problems associated with the unemployment question. In the tense situation generated by the conflicts between a regulated and a market society, between a society based on the Estates and one based on class, and between conservatism and liberalism, the first steps were taken towards an unemployment policy. Concern over the growth of a poor and unpropertied class marked the debate over poor relief, in which the problems of "involuntary unemployment" were ventilated for the first time. The report submitted in 1839 by the Poor Relief Commission appointed two years earlier, along with the poor relief statutes promulgated in 1847 and 1853, did not merely acknowledge the existence of involuntary unemployment. They also declared that society had an obligation to alleviate the plight of the unemployed in the form of relief works or public work projects.
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