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Emancipation och religion. Den svenska kvinnorörelsens pionjärer i debatt om kvinnans kallelse ca 1860-1900

Inger Hammar, Historiska institutionen, skilda bibliotek,
Publication Date
  • Religion-Blind
  • Sweden
  • Ideology
  • Sexuality
  • Liberal Theology
  • Calling
  • Luther
  • Gender
  • Emancipation
  • Religion
  • Contemporary History (Circa 1800 To 1914)
  • Modern Historia (Ca. 1800-1914)
  • History And Archaeology
  • Economics
  • Education
  • History
  • Religious Science


The purpose of the thesis is to chart the ideology that formed the basis for the initial stages of the emancipation of women in Sweden. The focus of the analysis is the debate over what constituted a woman's calling, and her place in public life. The early feminists possessed a Christian outlook with strong liberal overtones, and it was thus specifically theological arguments that the pioneering generation was to use in the debate over the emancipation of women. This debate was mainly conducted with men who argued for the official, orthodox interpretation of the Lutheran-Christian understanding of the relationship between the sexes. The pioneer emancipationists' line was firmly anchored in a Lutheran tradition that asserted that, at Creation, God destined the sexes to complete one another. This, however, was not synonymous with accepting the subordination of women. Although research into the history of Swedish women dates back to the 1960s, and numerous historians have dealt with the pioneer period of the second half of the nineteenth century, no one thus far has observed, even less analysed, the fundamentel significance of religion to an understanding of the relationship between the sexes, and the effect it was to have upon the debate about women's emancipation. In a simplistic way, religion, the church, and the priesthood have been described as being hostile to emancipation. In so doing, a glaring contradiction was missed; the women who from the mid-nineteenth century demanded emancipation had ideological roots in the very context that research has described as hostile to emancipation. The driving force behind the call for women's emancipation has been sought in other places. A case was made for economic imperatives, and another for an ideological basis for an emancipated world view that is wholly separate from Lutheran, Bible-based ideology. In the thesis, such reseach has been termed 'religious-blind', a term that takes its inspiration from the widely established term 'gender-blind'. The study shows that an analysis of people's relationship to the prevailing interpretative framework of Lutheran teaching, can provide a greater understanding of the ideology that was the basis the emancipationists' actions. The central figures are drawn from the circle around "Tidskrift för hemmet" ("Home Journal") that was published between 1859 and 1885, and its successor "Dagny", published from 1886. The circle can be seen as following the footsteps of Fredrika Bremer, and its main character is Sophie Leijonhufvud-Adlersparre. Theolocically, the circle was tied to a religious liberalism that, in demanding personal freedom, also gave support to the women's movement. Their basic theological view was based on a historical understanding of the Bible, and a critical view of history, that grew during the second half of the nineteenth century. The pioneering feminists' ideology came, by the turn of the century, to be questioned from within. The objections did not now stem from othodox theology, but instead from an increasingly secularised movement where the new emancipation ideology was described in non-theological terms and reflected an earthbound perspective.

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