New Methods and Concepts

A commonly asked question about practice-oriented methods is whether they can be used to chart long-term change over time. Another question is how results engendered by such methods can be made to speak to results based on other methods and data types. This project takes these two questions as its point of departure.

The purpose of the project is to develop new methodologies and concepts for writing early modern and nineteenth-century history. This history will be practice-oriented, that is, we look for evidence of what people did and how they used their time. The project also makes a specific point of using other empirical cases than the British and Dutch ones in order to question their canonical status in historical narratives.

A woman feed chickens hwile two children play at a seesaw. UUB 4653.

The project builds on previous experiences of developing methods,
concepts, digital research infrastructures and collaborative forms of historical research (in the Gender and Work project). The new project will:

  1. Develop new ways of conceptualizing and mapping change over time that make use of information on practices and avoid narratives based on notions of growth and modernization.
  2. Develop new methods for linking historical practice data to other data in ways that optimize their usefulness and comparability.
  3. Apply and compare the usefulness of this approach in different societies.
  4. Contribute to the digital humanities by expanding an existing database and working closely across disciplines.

Part I of the project will be to identify indicators of macro-level change 1550 to 1900: types of data that describe important ‘variants’ of work, and how these have changed over time.
Part II of the project will be to gauge the importance of multiple sources of income on a micro-level, and to see whether multiple sources of income was an individual or household-based phenomenon. We will test if and how data created with the verb-oriented method can be linked to data from other contemporary sources, making a specific point of using different local case studies. This will be done for the period 1720 to 1900 for a central Swedish area characterized by a broad spectrum of economic activities; for a northern Swedish area where hunting, fishing and commercial contacts with Norway were important and where there was a Sami population; for one area in eastern Europe; for one area in southern Europe.

A woman kneading. Grenna Museum.