Strategies of survival of the agrarian population from the end of the 18th century to the World War II

Project: Strategies of Survival of the Agrarian Population from the End of the Eighteenth Century to the World War II
Funded by:
Academy of Finland
Period: 2003-2006
Researcher in charge: Professor Toivo Nygård

This project explores the survival strategies of people living in the Finnish countryside from the end of the 18th century to the middle of the 20th century. The purpose of the project is to examine how agrarian people reacted to fundamental changes deriving from the society, the community and/or the individual’s life situation. When facing change, individuals have to make choices intentionally and/or intuitively. These choices can be called strategic actions.

The project concentrates on three major changes, covering three levels of society. Firstly, changes in individual life-situations are analysed by viewing the effects which widowing and migration have on choices that an individual makes. Secondly, the project studies reactions to the large ideological changes of society by examining the adoption of the ideology of temperance and the influence of the consciously held world view on personal self-image and the choices made. Thirdly, the project views the economic changes of agrarian communities, focusing on the expanding monetary economies and the effects of the Great Depression. The approach is multi-disciplinary; the project combines a historical perspective with methods derived from the disciplines of economics, cultural anthropology and sociology.