2014 |

Workshop Lund, Sweden, 16-17/10/2014

MàJ : 13/01/2015

“Government and agricultural change in comparative perspective”


Workshop arranged within the International Scientific Coordination Network (GDRI):

“CRIses and Changes in the European Countryside in the long run”



Lund, Sweden

16–17 October, 2014

“Government and agricultural change in comparative perspective”


The agricultural transformation of preindustrial Europe is a classical area of research, which hasdrawn attention to several important factors promoting growth. The prevailing focus on single regions or countries in European research has led researchers to put forward different aspects as key factors in the agricultural transformation. One such key factor proposed has been the actions and interventions of government. This meeting will critically examine reforms as solutions to problems in historical rural society and aims at by comparative papers provide a general understanding of the impact of government and its potential effect on escaping re-current crises.

Historical evidence show that state reforms, and attempts at reform, in the past have gradually been implemented to eliminate the hold of dominant elites on rural society, and to do away with feudal rights and redistribute land ownership. The process, the extent and the limits of these reforms require a thorough re-examination of multiple contexts in Europe to be able to identify common patterns and context-specific solutions. Most importantly is also to connect the government actions to outcome, in terms of escaping crises through growth in production or productivity within agriculture.

In many areas in Europe, the State became active in promoting agriculture during the later stages of the Ancien Regime. Besides issuing enclosure acts, laws enhancing commercialization and investments were passed. In practice this led to enhanced possibilities for cultivators to individually or collectively arrange land and production protected by stronger property rights. Examples of this are laws passed allowing for splitting farms into smaller units, to trade, and to rearrange landholdings.

 One important aspect is the outcome of the reforms and particularly whether government actually changed the rural society into a society escaping crises and experiencing growth. Several researchers have stressed the importance of institutional change, such as liberal agrarian reforms and enclosures. The impact of institutions on growth has been discussed extensively. Proponents of the positive effects of the ‘right’ institutions have advocated the economic incentives of secure and stable property rights, the possibilities of flexibility with individual decision making in agriculture, and the commercial possibilities of integrated and deregulated markets. Critics, on the other hand, have downplayed the role of institutions, pointing to cases where well-functioning institutions have emerged long before growth took place, or arguing that it was not institutional change within agriculture but urban development and market demand that caused the rising output in agriculture.

The aim of this meeting is to study the role of government and reforms on growth during agricultural transformations. Papers from all parts of Europe are of need to reach a general understanding of the importance of reforms for change in agriculture and in the rural society.



Thursday, October 16

13.00-13.10 Welcome and introduction to the topic.

13.10-14.30 First session (2 papers)

- Jean-Pierre Jessenne & Nadine Vivier: Land reforms in Western Europe, 1760-1850: Answer to crises or crises factor?

- Peter M. Jones: The state and agricultural reform c. 1760-1840.

14.30-14.45 Coffee

14.45-16.05 Second session (2 papers)

- Gerard Béaur & Jean-Michel Chevet: Changing ownership to improve agriculture? State policy in France (18th-19th centuries).

- Carsten Porskrog Rasumussen: The agrarian reform policies of Scandinavia ca. 1750-1820.

16.05-16.20 Coffee

16.20-17.40 Third session (2 papers)

- Peter Moser: Contested strategies for growth: Free trade and protectionism re-visited. Switzerland 1880-1914, and beyond.

- Jordi Planas: In the aftermath of the phylloxera plague: State intervention in wine markets in France and Spain in the early twentieth century.

20.00 Dinner at Bantorget 9 (purple star on map below)


Friday, October 17

9.00-10.20 Fourth session (2 papers)

- Ulrich Pfister & Michael Kopsidis: Institutional change and agricultural growth in late eighteenth and nineteenth-century Germany: an overview.

- Mats Olsson & Patrick Svensson: From crises to cornucopia? Institutional change and agricultural growth in late eighteenth and nineteenth-century Sweden.

10.20-10.40 Coffee

10.40-12.00 Fifth session (2 papers)

- Andrew Gritt: Land drainage, landscape and agricultural change: State authority and intervention in England, c. 1550-1850.

- Henrik Svensson : The impact of enclosure and privatization on the investments in landesque capital. Examples from southern Sweden.

12.00-13.00 Lunch at Medicon Village

13.00-14.00 Summary and discussion.


The workshop takes place at the Lund School of Economics and Management (Ekonomihögskolan), Department of Economic History, Building Alfa 1, Scheelegatan 15B, room 2003 (the Wicksell Hall).

From the city center and the hotel it is a 15 minute walk to the School of Economics.


Following the guidelines of the network workshops, all participants are required to pay for their own travel and hotel whereas the organizers will pay for the meals.


We will book rooms for all participants at a hotel in the city center (one night approx. EURO 150) unless you explicitly tell us not to do so.

Airborne participants

The preliminary schedule above will give you the start and end time of the workshop. We propose that you try to find a plane that arrives at the latest around 11.00 on the 16th in order to be able to be at the workshop in time. As for the departure, the workshop ends at 14.00 and you will need to be at the airport around 1.5-2 hours before departure, i.e. departure from 17.00 or later is recommended.

You fly to Copenhagen (CPH), Denmark. After claiming your luggage you enter the arrival hall and right in front of you, 50 meters ahead, there is a ticket booth for the trains to Lund. You have to buy the ticket before entering the train. The train leaves right under the ticket booth directly to Sweden, i.e. do NOT go to Copenhagen, and usually they depart every 20 minutes.

The train stops three times in Malmö (Hyllie, Triangeln, and Malmö C) then the next stop is Lund C, your destination. The trip from the airport takes around 35 minutes to Lund.

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