An Economic History of Sweden

An Economic History of Sweden

An Economic History of Sweden

An Economic History of Sweden

Synopsis

Based upon comprehensive and original research, this study provides a wealth of historical material reaching up to the modern era, including an analysis of the more troubled recent past of the Swedish Model.

Excerpt

Fernand Braudel, the French economic historian, coined the term la longue durée to express the importance of the long waves of history, the waves that move beneath the surface The history that deals with short-term events, the movements on the surface, he called l’histoire événementielle. This book attempts to shed light on the long waves in economic history; the long-term trends whose workings are often hidden, but which have a decisive effect on the way our society evolves. What may appear on the surface to be crucial events that cause drastic changes in our lives may, in fact, have a lesser impact on the way we provide for ourselves and on the structure of our society than the long-term changes, changes that we cannot clearly identify in the bustle of daily life.

This in no way means that history is made up only of long-term trends and structures. All history is also about change, about the way structures are disrupted and transformed. In history, structures always interact with the forces that change them, either swiftly or over a longer time. Innovations and innovators therefore play a very important part in history. Accordingly, this book gives as much attention to innovations and innovators as to the forces that work over long periods of time. To attempt a description of the way changes occur is a task for every historian that is as tempting as it is challenging.

The aim of this book is both modest and ambitious. It is modest in that it cannot hope to give a comprehensive picture of Sweden’s economic history. The space available limits me to a presentation of some of the main trends, a general outline. Neither can I attempt, by drawing on recent research, to offer a completely new picture of the economic history of Sweden. Such a work is to be found in Eli Heckscher’s monumental Sweden’s Economic History since Gustav Vasa, (1935-1949). All efforts to improve on this work have failed; it may be that it simply cannot be bettered. On the other hand, this may be an excessively ambitious goal. From its inception, my work has been guided by the thought that it must be possible to capture and highlight the most important trends in the swarm of complex events that make up Sweden’s economic history. By the same token, I have taken the liberty of

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