Bad mot Lort och Sjukdom: Den privathygieniska utvecklingen i Sverige 1880–1949
- Location: Hörsal 2, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala
- Doctoral student: Wiell, Karolina
- About the dissertation
- Organiser: Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen
- Contact person: Wiell, Karolina
In this thesis, the question of why a large number of small, modest, public baths (saunas) were built on the Swedish countryside during 1920–1949 has been analysed. The specific research question has been: How did the idea of the need for the baths, as well better personal hygiene among the Swedish population, develop?
The study is based on a number of different sources, including governmental registers, records, and motions to parliament, reports from the organization of the district medical officers, popular science books, leaflets, schoolbooks and magazines.
When bacteria were identified in the mid-19th century, the new knowledge spread around the world. In Sweden, the district medical officers made personal hygiene (skin care) a main question in the 1890s as a way of making their work important to their employer, Medicinalstyrelsen. It was also away to demonstrate their importance and unique competence when it came to preventive healthcare. The new knowledge, based on assembled health statistics and the idea of hygiene, was distributed to the population through literature such as schoolbooks, women’s magazines, and works of popular science, as well as through compulsory school baths for children. In the end, after almost 40 years, the arguments for personal hygiene formed an ideology that reached the government and resulted in a decision that supported the building boom of small public baths on the Swedish countryside, known as badstugor, to meet the need of an improved personal hygiene in areas where municipal water- and drainage systems were still not established.
This study contributes to the understanding of personal and societal change. This study also focuses on how economics can be affected by help, adding to the field of economic history. Another aspect is how changes of norms, as well as strong beliefs, can lead to societal changes, new social norms and change behaviour of a population.