Abstract: The Asymmetrical Impact of the First Era of Globalization on Different Swedish Regions

Jan Jörnmark


The paper discusses the "first globalization" in a national as well as regional setting. Using Sweden as a rather typical example of this industrial revolution, the "revolution" is treated as an example of profound structural change, which affected different regions of the country in very different ways. Thus, Sweden saw the transformation of its former "base industry"—the iron industry—into a new industrial structure, based on the exploitation of the foremost raw material: wood. In turn, the wood industry gave birth to several industries: saw mills, pulp, and paper. It is argued that this change, which affected different regions very differently, led to deep tensions within Swedish society. The wood industry made its fastest and most thoroughgoing impact on the regions outside the old industrial heartland, Bergslagen. Despite this, the new industrial forces started to affect this area as well by the early 1880s. It is argued in the paper that this clash between "old" and "new" industrial interest groups was pivotal to Swedish developments during the next century. The clash of interest led to a political and economic struggle. The "old" interest groups were stronger in their political articulation, which led to a pattern of institutional change that partly arrested the process of structural change. As well, the state's actions became increasingly important to this increased rigidity. The paper thus aims to discuss the process of globalization in a national-regional setting. The effects of the process on a country's institutional choices are analyzed, in an effort to discuss why nationalistic forces came to dominate the political field after the turn of the nineteenth/twentieth century.