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Historisk tidskrift 126:3 • 2007

Innehåll (Contents) 2007:1

Uppsatser (Articles)

Association i bondesamhället. En mikrohistorisk studie av missionsintresset i Tygelsjö, cirka 1835–1855

Erik Sidenvall

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A bourgeois association in an agrarian community. A micro-study of the missionary revival at Tygelsjö, c. 1835–55

In early-nineteenth-century Sweden the association emerged as a new form of organization. As numerous scholars have pointed out, these new bodies, which aimed at the reorganization of society, appeared mostly within bourgeois circles. Only on rare occasions did the rural population become directly involved in the inner life of these bodies. Yet, there were exceptions to this rule. Numerous members of the Swedish Missionary Society, and later of the Lund Missionary Society, were recruited from Tygelsjö, a rural parish in the southernmost part of Sweden. This article is a micro study of the social position and gender of the people who entered the missionary societies from this small community.

Even though this article argues that the difference between bourgeois and rural communities should not be exaggerated, the people of Tygelsjö deviated from the national norm. First, whereas associations tended to attract a significant degree of female participants in bourgeois environments, the missionary revival at Tygelsjö was exclusively a male affair. This difference is explained by the rural idea of the household and by the lack of female auxiliaries to the missionary societies. Secondly, in an urban environment the associations were by and large the concern of the prosperous. Surprisingly, it was not until the latter half of the 1850s that the land-owning segment became dominant among the Tygelsjö supporters of the missionary societies. This pattern can be explained with reference to clerical participation in, and support of, the missionary bodies. The active intervention by the vicar actually appears to have contributed towards making membership in these associations more widespread. When that encouragement ceased in the early-1850s, the prosperous class became dominant.


Sweden, association, public arena, rural society, modernization, gender, revivalism, clergy