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Karlshamn-Wislanda Jernväg : Maktelit och nätverk i Karlshamns stad vid banans tillblivelse 1855-1874

by Gunnarsson, Ingemar

Abstract (Summary)
The aim of this essay was to describe the power elite of the Swedish town Karlshamn, and its influences on the local political process before the realization of the narrow-gauge railway Karlshamn-Wislanda-Jernväg. During the mid 19th century, a revolutionary period began in the Swedish pre-industrial epoch. The political and institutional regulatory frameworks were disassembled and restructured, away from protectionism and centrally controlled administration, for the benefit of free trade, local self-government and liberalism. The changes were carried through during times marked by a drastic increasing native population and upcoming demands for adjustments to meet the growth of the industrial-, trade- and labour markets. An essential industrial development factor was the building of the national railway network, which started after some important decisions in the Swedish Riksdag during the 1850´s. In close connection with governmental initiatives to build national trunk lines, processes on the local political arenas were initiated to rapidly obtain connections to these planned main lines. Focus in this study was put on the town Karlshamn 1855-1874 and the main document sources that were examined consisted of protocols and petitions from errands on the local political arenas, f.e. the town council. The material was methodically revised by means of a network- and field analysis. Through this analytical method it was possible to confirm the power elite actors, their potential networks and reproduced groups. The results point to the importance of the formal networks an their contributions to the accumulation of social capital. Above all, this was significant for the most important individuals in the process, the local wholesale dealers Edvard Ferdinand Meyer and Carl Gustaf Berg. The process also resulted in a reproduction of local political power, and the dominance on the political field was continued. All through the twenty-year lasting process, the railway issue became a possibility for the local elite, with representatives from the trading companies, to mobilize the political decisions in the direction of continuous economic development, and enlargement of the town´s commercial area. In the town of Karlshamn, with a stagnating economy, the new infrastructure, beside the connection to the main national lines, constituted a lifeline towards continuous financial expansion and competitiveness.
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School:Växjö universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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Date of Publication:09/19/2006

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