Hemmet vid nationens skola : Väckelsekristendom, värnplikt och soldatmission, ca 1900-1920
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AbstractThis thesis is set within a framework of the revivalist Christians’ Inner Mission, and presents as a case-study their mission to conscripts stationed in military exercise areas and garrison towns across Sweden. The revivalists’ evangelical zeal is given special attention. This is in contrast to much of the earlier research, which worked with the secularization paradigm formulated by the founders of sociology. Conscription in the early 20th century was regarded in various civilian and military circles as a platform for social and national integration, although these attitudes remain largely unstudied in Sweden’s case. Those engaged in missionizing the army were also drawn to this ‘School of the Nation’. The thesis shows that the motives of those involved in this home mission to soldiers were grounded in religion. However, the expansive missionary work was strengthened by the positions held by its male protagonists in the power structures of society. The mission was maintained by social contacts between an informal alliance of upper-class officers from among the mission’s military members, and by civilian missionaries from lower social classes. A decisive contextual factor for the army-mission as an educational project was that Sweden remained at peace. The civilian contribution to the mission grew as it spread more widely through the country. It is argued in this thesis that the soldiers’ homes were dominated by a discourse of domesticity. This discourse designated a place, a relationship, and a state of mind for the conscript during his free time at the military base. The missionaries were convinced that contact with the domestic and family values of civilian society should be preserved by the soldiers’ homes. The discourse of domesticity also looked ahead to the conscript’s subsequent life in civilian society: the missionaries wished to train up conscripts to be sober, moral family breadwinners.
TypeDoctoral thesis, monograph