Mellan kaos och kontroll : Social ordning i svenska flottan 1670-1716


This dissertation investigates how social order was created in the Swedish navy at the end of the Swedish imperial age (1670-1716).  During the period the Swedish navy went through many changes that led to an expanding and re-structuring of both the administration of the Admiralty and the naval activities. These changes contributed to shape the life on board ships and at shipyards in more fixed ways than before. The dissertation analyses the social order on the basis of three overlapping themes, inspired by Michel Foucault’s theories on power relationships and the exercise of power. First it investigates how the navy upheld its hierarchy and formed the relations between superior officers and subordinate men, second how the Admiralty and officers exercised power in order to make the subordinates behave in the desired way and third how the subordinates reacted to the control; especially how they formed different strategies of resistance to challenge or escape it. Using micro-history methodology, in-depth analyses have been made of individuals and situations mostly found in judicial cases from the navy’s own court (the admiralty court).     Social relations were however not only a result of naval control. They were also highly guided by social orders that existed in civil society. Thus naval rank emerged with marital status, age, experience and masculinity ideals into a complex and shifting hierarchy that was constantly questioned. The dissertation shows that upholding naval social order was dependent on the fact that the Admiralty and officers used both productive and repressive power strategies simultaneously. The naval order offered opportunities and careers to those who were obedient and skilful but could threaten the disobedient troublemaker with severe punishments. The order was also highly dependent on individual relations and situations. Since order primarily was challenged in face to face- situations the superiors had to devise power strategies to control those situations. By doing that they at the same time reduced all resistance to separate, single events and repeatedly rejected the slightest implication of any criticism towards the general social order. The power relations thus were a delicate theater were both superiors and subordinates pretended their actions meant something else than it did. From the point of view of the subordinates the social order always was about obligations and rights but from the superiors’ perspective social order basically was the main difference between chaos and control

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