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The quest for publicness: political conflict about the organisation of tramways and telecommunication in Sweden, c. 1900–1920
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8219-6788
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6175-2909
2016 (English)In: Scandinavian Economic History Review, ISSN 0358-5522, E-ISSN 1750-2837Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This article explores political conflicts about the organisation of public services in Sweden c. 1900–1920. The authors argue that political decisions play a vital role in shaping the political economy of public services. The case studies analysed are the political debates about the communalisation of the tramway system in Stockholm, and the nationalisation of Sweden’s last private telephone company. In both cases, the transfer of the service to public organisation was a lengthy process, ending in the late 1910s. This is explained using the concept of publicness. Drawing on three discursive chains, the argument is that the political development was affected by the politicians conception of the political community, the form of organisation and by perceptions of values such as equal access and modernity. In the case of the tramways, public organisation was seen as the best option to defend the public against corruption and self-interest. In the case of the telephones, free market competition was seen as a guarantee for an efficient and cost- effective service. The reason for this difference, is argued, was that the debate on the tramways articulated a clearer notion of publicness, where equal access and public opinion carried larger weight. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
Keyword [en]
Public services, private entrepreneurs, the common good, tramways, telecommunications, equal access, market competition
National Category
History Economic History
Research subject
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-137264DOI: 10.1080/03585522.2016.1258007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-137264DiVA: diva2:1061370
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2012-0764
Available from: 2017-01-02 Created: 2017-01-02 Last updated: 2017-01-03

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Hallenberg, MatsLinnarsson, Magnus
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