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Magnus Linnarsson

Forskare

Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of History
Telephone 08-16 20 21
Email magnus.linnarsson@historia.su.se
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 D, plan 9
Room D 924
Postal address Historia 106 91 Stockholm

About me

PhD and Associate Professor in history, and work as a teacher and reasercher at the Department of History.

Teaching

I am currently the Director of Studies at the Department of History. I teach at:

  • Introductory course on Bachelor's program in history, politics and society.
  • The course "literature" within the bachelor course.

I also supervise students at all levels.

Research

My research deals with topics in the intersection between the state and civil society. I have a particular interest in organizations and institutions and how political decisions at different levels have had repercussions on both the state organization, as for people in general. A major focus have been how different organizational forms was used to manage various services and utilities, as well as conflicts and debates about their organization.

At the moment, I work on a project, Shifting Regimes: Representation, administrative reform and instiutional change in early modern Sweden, c. 1537–1810, together with Mats Hallenberg and Joakim Scherp. How was the modern state formed and by whom? We propose to answer this question by studying the relation between the political and the administrative spheres in Sweden from a long-term perspective, c. 1537-1810. The wider purpose is to analyse the agency behind institutional change by comparing the actions of political leaders with those of major bureaucratic bodies.

Previously, I conducted a research project along with Mats Hallenberg, in which we analyze political conflicts concerning the organization of the public service from pre-modern to modern times: "Self-interest versus the common good". The results are presented in my book, Problemet med vinster (2017), and in the article, "The quest for publicness" (2017). We investigate how various arguments have been articulated in policy discussions, and how these in turn influenced political decisions. The project studies both privatization, and state and local government takeovers of areas previously organized outside the public sector.

In my earlier research I have studied how the Swedish early modern state organized various parts of its business. I have written a dissertation about the Swedish postal service and its organization in Sweden during the 1600s and early 1700s, Postgång på växlande villkor (2010). Based on the postal organization, I have shown that the Swedish state during the early modern period used several alternative organizational forms for its business – both strict government bureaucracy and what we today would call private contractors. 

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Magnus Linnarsson.

    Privat eller offentlig drift inom välfärden är ett ständigt aktuellt debattämne. I Problemet med vinster visar historikern Magnus Linnarsson att dagens debatt inte är en modern företeelse, utan en fråga med lång historia. I boken belyser författaren hur svenska politiker debatterat frågan under 400 år. Ska välfärdstjänster drivas av privata eller offentliga utförare? Och är det alls lämpligt att tjäna pengar på sådan verksamhet?

    Linnarsson analyserar riksdagsdebatter där motsättningen mellan privat eller offentlig drift har ställts på sin spets och politikerna brottats med den principiella frågan om privata entreprenörer ska få del av skattemedel. Vilka argument har använts för att förespråka privat respektive offentlig drift? Hur har diskussionerna om det allmänna bästa sett ut över tid? I boken fördjupar och problematiserar författaren den pågående debatten genom att lyfta fram de historiska rötterna till dagens diskussion om vinster i välfärden. 

  • 2019. Magnus Linnarsson. TEMP-tidsskrift for historie (18), 62-78

    När det svenska postväsendet inrättades 1636 skapades en stafett av särskilt avdelade postbönder som transporterade posten. Stafettsystemet utgjorde postens grundläggande infrastruktur tills postbönderna i slutet av 1800-talet ersattes av transporter med postdiligens och järnväg. I artikeln analyseras den svenska postbondeinstitutionens tillkomst och avskaffande. Den svenska statens val att använda sig av postbönder var unikt i Europa och förklaras som en del av en etablerad lösning för resursmobilisering inom den svenska statsförvaltningen, så kallad indelning. Trots flera försök att ersätta postbönderna med ett annat system, fortlevde postbondeinstitutionen under 230 år. Författaren argumenterar för att systemets uthållighet berodde på den svenska statens svaga förvaltningsstrukturer under perioden. Förvaltningens begränsade resurser motverkade större institutionella förändringar av postsystemet innan industrialiseringen på 1800-talet.

  • 2018. Magnus Linnarsson. Parliaments, Estates and Represenation 38 (2), 175-191

    A typical trait of the fiscal system of the ancien régime was the farming out of state revenue, most often represented by England and France. This article contributes to the ongoing discussion on the articulation of political economy and discourses on private and public organization in the early modern period, using the Swedish Riksdag as the focal point. Furthermore, it adds to historical research on private organizations for the operation of public services, and to a theoretical discussion on institutional development in the early modern period. In this article the Swedish General Customs Lease Company (Generaltullarrendesocieteten) 1723–65 is used as an example, arguing that Sweden represents an alternative model for the organization of revenue collection in early modern Europe; demonstrating that the General Customs Lease Company includes characteristics found both in England and in France. The analysis focuses on the political level, using parliamentary debates about the organization of the customs service. Thus, the explanation pays close attention to arguments wielded in favour, or against, farming out state revenue to private individuals. The political debates show an increasing critique against the large profits made by the shareholders in the Customs Company, as well as condemnations against the Customs Company for promoting self-interest at the expense of the common good. 

  • 2016. Mats Hallenberg, Magnus Linnarsson. Scandinavian Economic History Review

    This article explores political conflicts about the organisation of public services in Sweden c. 1900–1920. The authors argue that political decisions play a vital role in shaping the political economy of public services. The case studies analysed are the political debates about the communalisation of the tramway system in Stockholm, and the nationalisation of Sweden’s last private telephone company. In both cases, the transfer of the service to public organisation was a lengthy process, ending in the late 1910s. This is explained using the concept of publicness. Drawing on three discursive chains, the argument is that the political development was affected by the politicians conception of the political community, the form of organisation and by perceptions of values such as equal access and modernity. In the case of the tramways, public organisation was seen as the best option to defend the public against corruption and self-interest. In the case of the telephones, free market competition was seen as a guarantee for an efficient and cost- effective service. The reason for this difference, is argued, was that the debate on the tramways articulated a clearer notion of publicness, where equal access and public opinion carried larger weight. 

  • 2016. Mats Hallenberg, Magnus Linnarsson. Historisk Tidskrift (S) 136 (1), 32-63

    This article explores four political debates in the Swedish diet and among the ruling elite in Stockholm on the organization of public services. The results demonstrate how in different ways notions of the common good permeated the discourse on all occasions.

    When the Swedish government tried to initiate public street lightning in Stockholm in 1749, there was a broad consensus among government and city officials that this should be done by the creation of a municipal organization financed by tax income. The burghers of Stockholm, however, opposed the proposal and argued that they were themselves better suited to care for the streetlights. The common good should be provided by individual action of responsible, male householders. Eventually the burghers got the upper hand and public street lightning continued to be organized by private initiative until the mid-nineteenth century.

    When in the 1720s the Swedish diet discussed the lease of custom duties by a merchant consortium (Sw. generaltullarrendesocieteten), the problem of corruption emerged as the bone of contention. Proponents claimed that this form of private enterprise was an effective means to suppress widespread corruption among state officials. Their opponents argued to the contrary that private leaseholders would skim off the profits for themselves, thereby depriving the state of its income.

    In the mid-eighteenth century the city authorities in Stockholm debated whether the emptying of latrines should remain an individual concern or if it should be recognized as a public matter. The city officials at first decided that this task was indeed a matter of public concern that should be handled by private entrepreneurs. Within a few years they had changed their minds, however, proposing instead that a new communal organization should be created for the removal of city waste. By now, the ruling elite of Stockholm had begun to identify the common good with municipal direction.

    The development of railway infrastructure was a hotly debated subject in the Swedish diet of the 1850s. Some representatives argued that private entrepreneurs would provide more cost-effective solutions than publicly managed railways, while others claimed that the state must administer a national system of railways. In the debate, private self-interest was juxtaposed with equal access to the common good. The proponents of state intervention claimed that national concerns must have priority over financial gain, and this argument would eventually influence the final decision.

    By the middle of the nineteenth century there was a growing consensus among the ruling elites in Sweden that the common good could best be provided for by state or municipal initiative. In the debates, arguments about organizational efficiency and equal access to public services eventually won out over notions of individual responsibility and private enterprise as a better alternative to corrupt government. In the late twentieth century the debate had shifted radically, however. The reasons for this shift will be the subject of our future research.

  • 2015. Magnus Linnarsson. Revue d'histoire Nordique (18), 51-73

    This article examines the Swedish State Council’s descriptions and perceptions of mercenaries between 1621 and 1636. The survey shows that the Council described the mercenaries as unfaithful, unreliable and expensive. In its discussions, conscripted Swedish troops are said to be better than hired mercenaries. The State Council’s perception of mercenaries confirms a paradox in military history. During the period examined, mercenaries constituted a considerable part of fighting forces, not least in the Swedish army. This study, therefore, shows how an ideal of soldier recruitment collided with political reality. In so doing, this article also reviews British political scientist Sarah Percy’s thesis of a norm against the use of mercenaries. Percy has argued that such a norm has put restrictions on the use of mercenaries since the Middle Ages. A review of the Swedish source material found that this norm existed on a discursive level, but that it did not have any real impact on troop recruitment during the period studied. 

  • 2015. Magnus Linnarsson. Scandia 81 (2 Supplement), 9-18

    Premodernity: a useful analytical concept or redundant chronological term?

    In January 2011 the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (RJ) announced the launch of a particular fund for research on the pre-1800s. Behind the initiative lay amongst other things a desire to increase the number of Swedish researchers studying the “premodern” era. The foundation used the term “premodern” solely to provide chronological demarcation. However, the term premodern also gives rise to questions like: what is meant by premodern; what was the premodern era, and when was this premodernity played out? These questions were addressed in a session at the national historical conference “Svenska historikermötet” in 2015. During the session many of the issues and problems related to premodernity were discussed. Each participant described his or her view of premodernity as a chronological period, and as a theoretical concept, and then concluded with a discussion on how the concept was relevant in their own research.

    The participants were invited to write an article based on the session and the results are published in this Supplement of Scandia. Hopefully, the various approaches and perspectives presented here reveal the multifaceted nature of the concept of premodernity. Further to the very simple chronological demarcation of the “premodern”, as given by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences, this collection of articles shows its wide and varied definitions. Limiting premodern to the chronological interpretation of the concept, risks lumping all pre-1800s history together into “something that happened in the old days”. As several of the contributions to this Supplement shows, premodernity can instead be used as a relevant analytical concept, discussed and applied by researchers. 

  • 2013. Magnus Linnarsson. Historisk Tidskrift (S) 133 (1), 34-64

    Between 1972 and 1983 the Swedish state gave large-scale aid to the company Svenska Rayon AB (SRA). The company was Sweden’s only producer of rayon yarn during the era of the Cold War. Rayon was seen as a necessity for the Swedish state in case of crisis or war. In a situation where Sweden was shut off from the importation of cotton, rayon yarn would be the replacement material in the production of clothes and cloth. The Swedish government therefore protected the company and its production facilities, despite a poor economic performance. The government gave SRA some 250 million kronor in state aid between 1972 and 1983. What triggered the aid was the interna- tional textile crisis in Europe that began in the 1950s. The Swedish textile industry contracted and the economic results of the rayon company suffered under hardened international competition. In the beginning of the period analyzed, the aid was limited. It escalated over the years and culminated in the last agreement with the company in 1983.

    The article argues that national security was one explanation for the large amounts of state aid given to the SRA. The government considered rayon production vital to state security. This explanation complements previous research about Swedish state aid in the time period, which has mainly been interpreted from the perspective of labour policies. A second explanation is provided by the Swedish system of corporatism. Sweden has been described as one of the most corporative states in Europe, and the analysis of the aid offered to the SRA shows that the state and the company became more and more interlinked. In the case of the 1983 agreement, most of the text was produced by the two parts together. The article ends with a discussion of the case of the SRA as an example of the dissolution of the prevailing economic policy model in Sweden. This policy had been shaped by the so-called Rhen- Meidner model, and the state’s aid to the company shows how the model was abandoned, starting the movement towards a new economic policy. 

  • 2012. Magnus Linnarsson. Scandinavian Journal of History 37 (3), 296-316

    This article deals with the privatization of the Swedish postal service in the 1660s. In 1663 the Swedish state signed a lease contract for the management of the kingdom's postal service, handing over the leadership of the post to the nobleman Johan von Beijer. The purpose of this article is to show how the early modern Swedish state used private alternatives in executing its undertakings. An analysis of Johan von Beijer's lease contract will serve as an illuminating example of what such a private alternative might be. In order to answer the question of what influenced the choice of organization form, transaction cost theory is applied. Based on the analysis of the contract, and the negotiations between Beijer and the state, this article is able to complement and show the nuances of how the early modern Swedish state functioned in practice.

  • 2015. Anna Götlind, Magnus Linnarsson.

    Den här boken ger ovärderlig hjälp för alla som ska skriva en vetenskaplig artikel eller uppsats. Att kunna hantera formalia är en viktig del av det professionella vetenskapliga hantverket och förtjänar samma uppmärksamhet som andra delar av forskningsprocessen.

    Konsten att skriva en fotnot diskuteras detaljfrågor kring formalia, såsom citat- och referatteknik samt hantering av illustrationer och fotnoter, men framför allt tar författarna ett helhetsgrepp på vetenskaplig formalia. Boken är tänkt att vara ett hjälpmedel att användas under själva skrivandet och ger exempel på en mängd frågeställningar som kan infinna sig för uppsatsskribenten. Hur ska egentligen referenser utformas i en vetenskaplig text? Ska en fotnot stå före eller efter punkten? Hur redovisas internetkällor i källförteckningen?

    Boken vänder sig till nya studenter som behöver en bok i behändigt format att hålla hårt i under uppsatsskrivandet, men också till den mer erfarna forskaren som kan behöva en uppslagsbok när det uppstår frågor kring hur hänvisningar ska utformas.

  • Book (ed) Politiska rum
    2014. Mats Hallenberg, Magnus Linnarsson.

    Politik har i alla tider utspelats på olika typer av platser, från de politiska sammanträdesrummen till galgbacken utanför byn. Vilken betydelse hade rummet eller platsen för politikens utformning under förmodern tid, och vad ansågs vara en politisk handling? Utifrån ett rumsligt perspektiv och med en vidare syn på politik går det att förklara konflikter som annars inte skulle betraktas som politiska.

    I Politiska rum undersöker en grupp historiker platser och områden där konflikter utspelades mellan överhet och undersåtar under den förmoderna perioden. Texterna handlar om politik, hur politiken formade platserna och hur rum och plats i sin tur påverkade politiken. I bokens olika bidrag är rummet inte enbart den scen där politiken utspelades. Författarna diskuterar också hur rumsliga villkor har påverkat politiken, samt hur människors rörelser och handlingar bidragit till att särskilda platser och rum blivit politiska. 

  • 2015. Magnus Linnarsson, Mats Hallenberg.

    In January 2011 the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (RJ) announced the launch of a particular fund for research on the pre-1800s. Behind the initiative lay amongst other things a desire to increase the number of Swedish researchers studying the “premodern” era. The foundation used the term “premodern” solely to provide chronological demarcation. However, the term premodern also gives rise to questions like: what is meant by premodern; what was the premodern era, and when was this premodernity played out? These questions were addressed in a session at the national historical conference “Svenska historikermötet” in 2015. During the session many of the issues and problems related to premodernity were discussed. Each participant described his or her view of premodernity as a chronological period, and as a theoretical concept, and then concluded with a discussion on how the concept was relevant in their own research. The participants were invited to write an article based on the session and the results are published in this Supplement of Scandia. Hopefully, the various approaches and perspectives presented here reveal the multifaceted nature of the concept of premodernity. Further to the very simple chronological demarcation of the “premodern”, as given by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences, this collection of articles shows its wide and varied definitions. Limiting premodern to the chronological inter-pretation of the concept, risks lumping all pre-1800s history together into “something that happened in the old days”. As several of the contributions to this Supplement shows, premodernity can instead be used as a relevant analytical concept, discussed and applied by researchers. 

  • 2016. Magnus Linnarsson. When Sweden was ruled from the Ottoman Empire, 123-129

    This article is an attempt to reconstruct the postal connections between the king and the Royal Council, during Charles XII time in the Ottoman Empire. This has not been done in a systematic way and therefore provides an opportunity to increase our knowledge and understanding of how Sweden was ruled from the Ottoman Empire. The study focuses on the period between 1709, when the king fled from Poltava, and extends to 1714 when the king returned to Sweden. Firstly, a brief explanation of the postal relations between Stockholm and field army before the Battle of Poltava, are given.

  • 2014. Magnus Linnarsson. Politiska rum, 215-234

    Syftet med den här uppsatsen är att ur ett platsteoretiskt perspektiv analysera beskrivningar av statens lokaler under 1600-talet. Jag ska diskutera hur byråkratin fungerade som platsskapare när staten aktivt pekade ut hur förvaltningens verksamhet rumsligt skulle vara organiserad. Källmaterialet utgörs av förordningar och instruktioner från perioden 1618–1704, och jag redogör för och analyserar de passager i förordningstexterna som beskriver hur kontorslokalerna skulle se ut och hur de skulle vara ordnade. 

  • 2016. Magnus Linnarsson, Mats Hallenberg.
  • Conference Towns go public
    2018. Magnus Linnarsson, Mats Hallenberg.

    From the mid-nineteenth century and onwards, debates on urban public services became an integral part of municipal politics in Nordic towns.  The industrial revolution came late in Nordic countries and the problem of how to integrate immigrants and factory workers into existing networks became paramount at the end of the century. This paper will discuss how municipal bodies tackled the problem of making the city accessible to new groups in the urban landscape.  

    New forms of infrastructure had been introduced by private initiative: water, gas, electricity, tramways etc. In city councils and popular press, proponents of equal access argued that such services should be controlled and provided by municipal bodies. Their adversaries claimed that business operations were better run by private companies, and that municipal takeovers would only mean a larger burden for the tax-payers. The debates on how to improve and extend the reach of public services articulated new notions of community. The daily lives of women, children and the urban poor became a contested issue, and a new field for political solutions. Eventually, a future-oriented discourse became dominant where the solutions for today were expected to solve the problems of tomorrow as well.

Show all publications by Magnus Linnarsson at Stockholm University

Last updated: November 15, 2019

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