Populärkulturen och klassamhället. Arbete, klass och genus i svensk dampress i början av 1900-talet.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The aim of my thesis is to demonstrate how class was constructed linguistically in Svensk Damtidning (Swedish Woman's Magazine) at the beginning of the 20th century. Theoretically, I call for a renewal of studies of class, thus joining the traditions of post-marxism and feminism.

Research into language and class, strongly coloured by modernism, suggests that from the 19th century onwards people increasingly spoke of "class" instead of "classes", while other "older" models of social categorisation became increasingly rare. However, in Svensk Damtidning it was common to write of "classes" in the plural, and with more designations than just "working-" and "bourgeois-/middle-" (as in working-class), as well as to use a range of equivalent terms to denote a "social map". In addition, servants, actresses, singers, and other professional women, were equally likely to be depicted as specific classes. On the whole the term was used repeatedly in a wider and more general sense close to its etymological origins.

Further, in research of representations of "the working-class", often great weight is placed on its definition as "the other". However, I demonstrate how discourses drew attention to qualities in "working", "uneducated" or "poor" women that were perceived as attractive, and were presumedly lacking in many "better" women. Moreover, Svensk Damtidning used a word such as "arbeterska" (female worker) not only to differentiate those with manual work from the idle rich, but to describe "educated" people, referring to them as "brain-workers", an attitude that stemmed from Luther's idea of human calling.

The final section attempts to examine the opposition to the dominant discourses. Here, I interpret how the journal construed female factory workers, seamstresses, and female domestic servants in relation to letters to the editor signed by the same categories of women.

By way of conclusion I argue that it is fruitful to abandon the great narrative of the working-class's rise and probable fall, not the least because this figure of speech was far from alone in its own presumed heyday. Thus, with a greater knowledge of its genealogy, I claim that in its broadest historical sense the term "class" is still relevant: as a designation with origin far back in the 18th century.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History


  • Contemporary history (circa 1800 to 1914), Historia, History, Genusvetenskap, Gender studies, identity, experience, labour history, post-modernism, post-marxism, feminism, women´s magazines, popular culture, work, gender, working-class women, class, classification, Modern historia (ca. 1800-1914), Scandinavian languages and literature, Nordiska språk (språk och litteratur)
Translated title of the contributionPopular Culture and Classification: the Discourses of Work, Class, and Gender in Swedish Women's Magazines at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2005 Dec 17
  • Carlsson Bokförlag
Print ISBNs91-7203-745-8
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2005-12-17 Time: 10:15 Place: Sal 3, Historiska insitutionen, Magle stora kyrkogata 12 A, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Olsson, Tom Title: Prof. Affiliation: Södertörns högskola ---

Related research output

Ulrika Holgersson, 2005, Veckovis. En antologi om svensk veckopress. Dahlström, U. & Carelli, P. (eds.). Dunkers kulturhus, Vol. 3. p. 52-57

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

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Related activities

Holgersson, U. (Interviewee)
2011 Mar 28

Activity: OtherMedia participation

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