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"Androm till varnagel-": det tidigmoderna Stockholms folkliga rättskultur i ett komparativt perspektiv
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
1998 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
"As a warning to others..." : the popular legal culture in early modern Stockholm, in a comparative perspective (English)
Abstract [en]

The basic concept for my research is legal culture. Thus I do not confine my study to what has been labelled "historical criminology", but also include litigation in civil cases concerning economic conflicts. Though quantitative analysis is a necessary preliminary step, the focus of my interest lies in attitudes and values, mainly of the lower classes. The study of popular legal culture in Stockholm 1620-1720 is viewed in a comparative perspective with Chester and Bremen, two cities with legal systems belonging to the two main judicial traditions of Europe.

At the basis of any theory of culture and cultural change should be the assumption that there is a relation between culture and the power structure in the society where that culture is situated. But power is not only the determinant of culture, legal culture also includes the way that power is structured, and the ways it is exercised. In the field of legal culture the main change with respect to power in the period I have examined is what has been labelled the judicial revolution. This concept is related to the process of the state taking control over legal system and establishing a monopoly of violence in society.

Two main features may be discerned in the change of criminal pattern of Stockholm during the period 1620-1720. There is a distinct fall of the frequency of lethal violence and a rise of female criminality. In fact the early eighteenth century Stockholm is the only case known where more women than men are indicted and sentenced.

The comparative study focuses on how the legal tradition coexists with different political and economic systems and with differences in the legal culture: values and attitudes concerning the law, especially the code of honour, which from a Swedish point of view seems to be a crucial element in the popular legal culture, the education and backgrund of the judges and lawyers as well as the participation of laymen in the legal system, the equality before law; the role of different kinds of argumentation in the legal discourse and finally the existence of popular sanctions outside the official system.

The anglo-saxon system has maintained many arcaic and irrational elements, but on the other hand it has fostered a strong tradition of commersialization, pluralism and freedom to choose between different kind of courts, which may have aided the developement of a capitalistic economy. In Bremen the bürger-elite stayed in control of the political power, working for the autonomy of the city. But at the same time the city council gave place to a large number of judicially trained members and ranged itsef within the legal system of the empire.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell Internationa , 1998. , 210 p.
Stockholm Studies in Economic History, ISSN 0346-8305 ; 28
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-45920ISBN: 9162830228OAI: diva2:370364
Public defence
1998-06-05, Hörsal 5, hus B, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2010-11-16 Created: 2010-11-16 Last updated: 2012-09-21Bibliographically approved

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