Administrating sickness: The workings of an all-female sickness fund, 1898–1931

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This chapter investigates the characteristics of a successful voluntary sickness fund in early twentieth-century Sweden. The practices of the Seamstresses Sickness and Burial Fund reveal how a working-class organisation functioned in improving the living conditions of its members. When it was first founded in 1898, it was a small all-female and marginal sickness fund, but by the 1930s it had developed into one of the largest in the city of Gothenburg, with good financial reserves. While successfully attracting new members and retaining its old, the fund also proved to be effective in reducing the costs of long-term sickness cases, one of its greatest concerns. Moreover, the social nature of the fund, its emphasis on mutual aid, and its economic decision-making practices, which went beyond mere capital accumulation, holds much of the explanation for the fund’s success. The fund also took part in initiating discussions on maternity benefits and participated actively in the general women’s rights movement, while also playing a part in the male-dominated sickness fund movement at large. Members’ engagement and willingness to remain members was likely reinforced by how the fund in this way gave a voice for working-class women.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAccounting for health: Calculation, paperwork, and medicine, 1500-2000
EditorsAxel Hüntelmann, Oliver Falk
PublisherManchester University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781526135179
ISBN (Print)978-1526135162
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Economic History


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