Land and the political economy

Session organizer/s: Klas Eriksson

Freehold Land, Resistance To Authoritarianism and Support for Democracy: Evidence from France

Session: 5

Authors: Adrien Montalbo

Co-authors: NA

Abstract: In this article, I provide an analysis covering 900 years of French history and study the long-term influence of free property of land on resistance to authoritarianism and support for democracy. To do so, I build on the work of historians who identified that, during the Middle Ages and until the French Revolution, rules on the property of land varied between French regions. Generally speaking, the eastern part of France adopted rules more favourable to free property of land, ensuring landowners with a greater protection against the local or national authorities. Free property was qualified as alleu (allods) and the land was then said to be allodial, meaning that lands owned as such were estates over which the allodial landowner had full ownership and right of alienation, and which were independent of any superior landlord. These properties could be either hold by noblemen, religious organisations or commoners. I identify to which area municipalities were belonging as regards the local legislation on land ownership, based on the information available in these legislations. I complement this measure by two others based on the old and actual toponymy of French municipalities (or places within the boundaries of municipalities) to identify areas where the allodial property was common from the Middles Ages to the nineteenth century. Then, I directly link the concentration of free ownership to the long-lasting influence of Roman law, which was stronger close to the cities that were granted the ius italicum. This Roman law granted cities outside Italy the same rights as if they were located on the Italian soil, namely that people born in the city would be considered as Roman citizens, able to fully own property, to buy and sell it. Having done so, I investigate the influence of free property on the resistance to the implementation of absolute Monarchy in France. Building on a new dataset covering 200 years of rebellions (1600 to 1800), I identify that municipalities where freehold land was legally possible more strongly resisted the implementation of the new national and autocratic regime. A municipality located in areas favourable to land property, or whose toponymy showed signs of free property, was more likely to be characterised by rebellions against both local authorities, feudalism and national authorities during this period of time. Subsequently, I evaluate the impact of free ownership of land on the democratization process in France, showing a stronger support for democracy during the elections which saw the progressive implementation of democracy in France in areas of free land property. Freehold land, inherited from the Roman law, was therefore a strong determinant of resistance to authoritarianism in France and later contributed to its democratisation.

The Social Origins of Democracy and Authoritarianism Reconsidered: Prussia and Sweden in Comparison

Session: 5

Authors: Erik Bengtsson

Co-authors: Felix Kersting (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Abstract: The implications of land inequality for politics and democratization is a classical debate in social sciences and political economy. A recurring argument is what the political scientist Carles Boix has formulated as that “The absence of landlordism constitutes a necessary precondition for the triumph of democracy”. We revisit this debate by studying two in various ways crucial cases: Prussia, the locus classicus of the pernicious effects of landlordism, and Sweden, often perceived to be Prussia’s opposite, as a farmer-dominated social structure led to stable democratization. Our comparison shows the flaws of these interpretations: on standard measures of land inequality, Sweden was more unequal than Prussia in the late 1800s, but nevertheless, obviously, the political outcomes were very different. We explore why land inequality had such different effects on politics in Sweden compared to Prussia, utilizing various measures of land inequality (share of land held by nobles; distribution of farm sizes; presence of large estates), looking at 241 election districts in Sweden from the imposition of universal male suffrage in 1909 to the 1940s, and 236 election districts in Prussia for all general election between 1871 and 1912. Land inequality, in its different measures, had no negative effect on vote participation in Sweden, no positive effect on the Conservative vote share, and no negative effect on the Socialist vote share. We explore why in a qualitative-historical section focusing on Scania, the most unequal region in Sweden but also the hotbed of democratic movements. For Prussia, land inequality is correlated with votes for the conservative party, however, not with turnout as measure of democratic participation. We relate the (in part) opposing findings to the different responses to growing import competition during the first wave of globalization.

To be Home and to be Free – How Homeliness and Emancipation was Discussed in the Transformations of City Environments During Swedish Functionalism 1945-74

Session: 5

Authors: Klas Eriksson

Co-authors: NA

Abstract: During the 20th century the public sphere was given more power over real estate and urban development in Swedish cities. This led to the largest public driven urban renewal projects of Swedish cities ever. With functionalistic principles city centers all around the country where demolished and rebuilt in a uniform mass-produced functionalistic fashion, and numerous suburbs was built in a similar way. This transformation of Swedish cities was motivated by politicians, planners, and architects in different ways, for instance with arguments emphasizing “hard” values like economic growth, equality, and rationality – aspects which has been thoroughly examined in previous research. In this paper I am exploring how arguments emphasizing the “soft” values of homeliness on the one hand and emancipation on the other, has been used to motivate these urban renewals. The reason for wanting to explore these aspects is that they play a significant role in the making of community and urbanity. Also, these aspects have been relatively under-researched when it comes to understanding urban renewal in Sweden during the middle of the 20th century. The concept of “The People’s Home” (Swe: Folkhemmet), which is referring to the Swedish welfare model during this period, suggest that the aspect of homeliness and belonging was important for this project. And in the famous “People’s Home”- speech by Per Albin Hansson in 1928, the importance of homeliness and belonging is emphasized repeatedly. However, aspects of individual emancipation from old power structures were also emphasized in this speech. Few areas of society were so affected by the political vision of “The People’s Home” as real estate and urban development. At the same time, many of the areas that was built with these principles has been repeatedly criticized for being impersonal, lifeless, uniform and alienating. Hence the opposite of homeliness, belonging, and – with its uniformity and centrality – possible in contrast with emancipation. By examining for instance propositions, motions, media articles, speeches, pamphlets, and state official investigations I am hoping to get a clear view on how the aspects of homeliness and emancipation was handled and what they were referring to in the motivation of the Swedish urban renewal projects during the middle of the 20th century. I aim at using both classical deep textual analysis and new digital methods like topic mapping. Just as in the middle of the 20th century, emancipation of the individual on the one hand, and the sense of home and belonging on the other, are key aspects in building and maintaining a good urban society today. By examining how these aspects have been handled and executed in an era not so far from our own, valuable knowledge, perspectives and lessons can be produced.