Lärlingsfrågan : Institutionell förändring, ekonomiska föreställningar och historiska begrepp i den svenska debatten om lärlingsutbildningen, 1890-1917

Sammanfattning: The turn of the 20th century was a formative period of industrialisation and class formation, and a key period in the development of European systems of vocational education and training. At that time, apprenticeship training was frequently debated in Sweden, just as it was in many other parts of Europe. However, even though the apprentice question was seen as important enough to be repeatedly examined in public inquiries in the decades around 1900, Sweden did not get an apprenticeship law.The purpose of this thesis is to investigate why Sweden did not get an apprenticeship law in the period 1890–1917, with a focus on the debate about what, if anything, to do about apprentice training. Using language-oriented analysis, the thesis contributes new knowledge about the development of the Swedish system of vocational education and training. The studies are based on primary sources from multiple actors – from the craft employers’ organisations to public inquiries and consultation statements by industry employers, unions and parliament. However, the focus is on the craft employers, who were the main proponents of apprentice legislation.The first article analyses agreement and disagreement in political argumentation. Many of these arguments contain an economic aspect, and the second article investigates economic perceptions of apprentice training. The first and second article, in line with much of the existing literature, emphasises the impact of class conflicts and the growth of industry on the politics of apprenticeship. The third article therefore takes a closer look at how these structural changes are imprinted on the craft employers’ language in the debate on apprenticeship, by analysing historical concepts connected to yrke and fack (both of which can be roughly translated as vocation, occupation or trade, although fack is also a Swedish term for trade union), klass (class) and stånd (estate).The main findings highlight a previously overlooked level of support for the idea of apprenticeship legislation among both employers and unions, combined with strong disagreements concerning the content of the proposed legislation. It is clear that there was both a craft/industry divide and a worker/employer divide. The latter has in previous research been emphasised as detrimental to the prospects for apprenticeship legislation. In the Swedish case, this class conflict reduced the chances of such legislation, as the state was also either unwilling or unable to introduce an apprentice law without agreement between employers and workers. The first article outlines much of these findings, while the second and third articles, in exploring other aspects of the apprentice question, further reinforce and nuance the main results.