Entrepreneurship in the Stockholm Archipelago – a Historical Perspective

A cursory reading of the literature describing yesterdays’ societies in the Stockholm Archipelago tells us that people in the archipelago heavily relied on fishing and small-scale farming for their living. With the arrival of modern industrialized society during the latter half of the 19th century, things changed, and other opportunities to earn a living appeared. However, there were and are certain circumstances in the Stockholm Archipelago that make it somewhat inert, preventing it from taking a place in the modern labor market. Some of these have to do with its geographical location and legal frameworks, while others derive from cultural constructions among the nearby town-dwellers over the last one hundred and fifty years. The following reflections will focus on how some of these circumstances have affected entrepreneurs in the archipelago from the 19th century up to today, and what follows is a sketch of a broad outline of the history of entrepreneurship in the Stockholm Archipelago. In addition, being aware of anachronistic pitfalls and possible theoretical shallowness, I will focus on the element of self-employment in the concept of the entrepreneur in order to be able to generalize among different kinds of entrepreneurial enterprises over time — keeping in mind that a common way to make ends meet in the archipelago has also been to work part time as employees, e.g. as customs officials and/or pilot boat operators.

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