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Bortom åker och äng


  • Nilsson, Pia


The subsistence farm, with grain production and animal husbandry as the main resources, is usually considered to characterize pre-industrial farming in Sweden. However, the geometrical cadastral maps reveal numerous farmsteads with negligible acreages, far below the 6 acres that are often calculated as the minimum size needed to support a household. The maps also indicate other resources, which sometimes seem to exceed the household consumption level, such as 'over-sized' hop gardens, fishing water 'in abundance' and hamlets with more mills than farmsteads. Is it possible, with these maps as the primary source, to reveal a regional division of labour and agricultural specialization besides the subsistence farms? The aim of this thesis is to discuss the prevalence and importance of mills, hop gardens, orchards and access to fishing water. The study requires a thorough analysis of the sources’ value, and the land surveyors’ reports have been compared with information in tax registers, mill registers and on somewhat later maps. The comparison shows that the surveyors’ data are mainly accurate, with one important exception. The surveyors never mentioned hand-mills, even though they were regionally common, or even the only kind of mill used for household purposes. The resources were unevenly distributed among the 1096 farmsteads studied. Access to resources was correlated to both the geographical conditions and to the farmsteads’ acreage. The grain producing districts, especially in the province of Östergötland, show the lowest presence of all resources except orchards. Irrespective of natural conditions, the best access to the studied resources is generally found among the larger farmsteads and not, as expected, among the ones with insufficient acreages. After evaluating the farmsteads’ access to resources, particular regions characterized by division of labour and specialist farmsteads became visible. Within these regions the produce exceeded the estimated total household needs for all the farms in the parish. The most obvious example is the large-scale hop production in the province of Västergötland. I see, however, no indication of farms exhibiting signs of the 'modern' form of specialization that involves producing only one crop or product (grain, hops, fruit, fish etc.), and using the profit to buy the farm’s daily necessities.

Suggested Citation

  • Nilsson, Pia, 2010. "Bortom Ã¥ker och äng," Department of Economics publications 2323, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sua:ekonwp:2323

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bontems, Philippe & Fulton, Murray, 2009. "Organizational structure, redistribution and the endogeneity of cost: Cooperatives, investor-owned firms and the cost of procurement," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 322-343, October.
    2. Nilsson, Jerker, 2001. "Organisational principles for co-operative firms," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 329-356, September.
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    5. Dirk van der Krogt & Jerker Nilsson & Viggo Høst, 2007. "The impact of cooperatives' risk aversion and equity capital constraints on their inter-firm consolidation and collaboration strategies-with an empirical study of the European dairy industry," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(4), pages 453-472.
    6. Fulton, Murray E. & Larson, Kathy A., 2009. "The Restructuring of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool: Overconfidence and Agency," Journal of Cooperatives, NCERA-210, vol. 23.
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    8. Murray Fulton & Konstantinos Giannakas, 2001. "Organizational Commitment in a Mixed Oligopoly: Agricultural Cooperatives and Investor-Owned Firms," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1258-1265.
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