This project offers a new understanding of how, under which circumstances and why different forms and degrees of coercive regulations and practices have shaped the labor market and working conditions in Sweden. Spanning from 1880s until the present, it is the first study to comprehensively apply the perspective of free and unfree labor to a context characterized by the evolvement of a social democratic welfare state. Focusing on how the Swedish labor market model has affected and been affected by the relationship between free labor and unfree labor, it analyses both subtle and concrete forms on unfree labor and how these have been generated, upheld and contested by state actors, trade unions, employers’ associations and affected workers. 

The study is conducted by a multidisciplinary group of researchers and consists of four subprojects. Together, these shed light on different economic and political contexts and sectors in which unfree aspects have been motivated to meet social challenges such as vagrancy; the threat of war; unemployment and; an increasing marginalization of groups with weak labor market positions. Unfree labor is here understood to correspond to inequalities in terms of gender, class and migration status. The project combines quantitative tools and qualitative methods such as content, idea and argumentation analysis, interviews and oral history to study source material from a variety of actors and both printed and unprinted archive material.

Project members:

Professor Yvonne Svanström (project leader) yvonne.svanstrom@ekohist.su.se 
Associate Professor Johan Svanberg johan.svanberg@ekohist.su.se 
Associate Professor Fia Sundevall fia.sundevall@ekohist.su.se 
Doctor Sofie Tornhill sofie.tornhill@lnu.se 

The project will start in 2020 and is financed by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet).