Det märkvärdiga mellantinget Jordbrukares sociala status i omvandling 1780−1900
Sammanfattning: During a period corresponding to approximately 1789−1872 the Swedish system of estates was phased out. New ideas challenged the organic view of society, and through a number of political reforms the estate privileges were abolished one by one. The reforms went hand in hand with a change in the social stratification at that time. The distinct difference between peasants and gentlemen that had characterized the countryside were erased and replaced by new ways of categorising people. This development has been described in broad strokes in previous research, leaving the roles of individuals overshadowed.This thesis is about individuals who were on the border between being peasants and gentlemen, how they were viewed by the class society, and the role they played in the dissolution of the same. The focus is centred on a population of wealthy farmers around the rural areas of Västerås during the years 1780−1900, and how they were perceived and acted in terms of title, lineage, education, occupation, farm holdings, building customs, naming customs and political life.The investigation shows that the differences between peasants and gentlemen remained during the period, but that it changed in character from a difference in kind, to a difference in degree. Important reasons for this were the gentlemen’s increased interest in agriculture and the emergence of a group of very wealthy farmers. The increase of rich farmers was more prevalent in the first half of the nineteenth century. They embraced some of the gentry’s behaviour, for instance through the acquisition of mansions, but as they often held political positions that by law should be held by peasants, they also preserved their common appearance. In this way the limits for what could be considered common were moved forward, and the difference between peasants and gentlemen weakened. The gentry’s interest in agriculture increased gradually and was marked by the introduction of agricultural institutes in the mid-1800s. As the old elite increasingly devoted themselves to agriculture they used titles as ”possessionat” and ”godsägare” (landlord) to rise above the peasants. They made themselves the elite in the peasants' own field, thus opening up to being associated with rich farmers.
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