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Fäbodväsendet 1550 - 1920


  • Larsson, Jesper


The thesis is about summer farms (fäbodar) in Sweden, analyzing how the agrarian economy in the north of Sweden developed from the sixteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century. The aim is to understand the impact of summer farms in the agricultural economy and their role in the development of agriculture before and during the Agrarian Revolution. The thesis deals with economic aspects of the summer farms, with the emphasis on production and organization. To understand this specific agricultural system, theories about agricultural systems, the organization of human collaboration, material culture and division of labor are used. Elinor Ostrom's theories about the management of common-pool resources (CPR's) are central for the analysis. Formulating a definition is crucial as a tool enabling reliable comparison of data from different times. Fundamental for the definition is that the summer farm is about stockbreeding and not grain production. This connects the Swedish summer farms to the international transhumance concept. Based on the investigation of court records, a chronology for the summer farms in the parish of Leksand has been developed. Estimates from three parishes demonstrate that livestock underwent considerable changes from the second half of the sixteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century. A huge increase of sheep and goats was demonstrated and concluded to be a result of the enlarged market integration. The establishment of summer farms enabled the expansion of stockbreeding and was connected to secondary occupations, and thereby a prerequisite for the division of homesteads. The summer farms and the agricultural development in Northern Sweden were part of a general European trend in the early modern period. People started to work harder with more division of labor. The increase of work was connected to an increase in trade. The leap in agricultural development in Northern Sweden would not have been possible without the female workforce on the summer farms. The advantage of the agricultural system in the north of Sweden was lost when livestock grazing and fodder collection moved to the fields. An agricultural system from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries disappeared and was replaced by a new system.

Suggested Citation

  • Larsson, Jesper, 2009. "Fäbodväsendet 1550 - 1920," Department of Economics publications 2115, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sua:ekonwp:2115

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