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En gustaviansk brygd: Dryckesvanor och genus i svenska högreståndskretsar ca 1772-1809
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD).
2011 (Swedish)In: Historisk Tidskrift (S), ISSN 0345-469X, Vol. 131, no 4, 727-744 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A Gustavian brew: gender divisions and drinking customs in the upper strata of Swedish society ca 1772–1809

The article explores the drinking habits of the Swedish elite of the Gustavian era (1772–1809), examining whether the contemporary changes in the perception of gender, as described by e.g. George Mosse and Thomas Laqueur, can be seen in the field of alcohol consumption. To answer this question a number of journals, diaries and memoirs from the late 18th and early 19th centuries have been examined. These texts, written by three women and eleven men from the upper strata of society, reveal that there was little segregation along lines of gender where the drinking culture of the Gustavian elite was concerned. Women were expected to consume smaller amounts of alcohol than men, but men and women habitually drank together and there was very little moral indignation over female drinking.

There are, however, a few brief mentions in the consulted texts where a different approach to alcohol and gender can be discerned. These are instances where men actively and deliberately excluded women from their drinking bouts, creating exclusive male spaces for alcohol consumption. This homo-social drinking pattern seems to emanate from bourgeois rather than aristocratic circles.

Although the details of elite drinking culture remain shadowy due to the scarcity of previous research, the results of this investigation indicate that the drinking habits of the Gustavian elite were more in line with what Laqueur has termed the “single-sex” model than with the 19th-century ideology of separate spheres. The difference between men and women was – when in came to drinking behaviour – a difference in degree, not a difference in kind.

The article closes with the suggestion that women’s consumption of alcohol became the object of moral condemnation later than has been previously assumed. As an example of this case is related where an account of female drinking during the Gustavian era was censored as late as 1908.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm, 2011. Vol. 131, no 4, 727-744 p.
Keyword [en]
gender, drinking customs, Eighteenth century, Sweden, elite
Keyword [sv]
genus, alkohol, 1700-tal, Sverige, elit
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-65093OAI: diva2:460972
Nykterhetens blinda fläck
Available from: 2011-12-01 Created: 2011-12-01 Last updated: 2012-01-13Bibliographically approved

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Enefalk, Hanna
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