The paper will present preliminary findings from my ongoing research project “Transnational pronatalism: collaboration and family policy exchanges in the Baltic Sea area in the 1940s”. Focusing on the collaboration between three non-govermental organizations in Finland and Sweden, the project analyses how considerations regarding population, family and procreation were transferred ... (Show more)
The paper will present preliminary findings from my ongoing research project “Transnational pronatalism: collaboration and family policy exchanges in the Baltic Sea area in the 1940s”. Focusing on the collaboration between three non-govermental organizations in Finland and Sweden, the project analyses how considerations regarding population, family and procreation were transferred and negotiated in national and transnational contexts. The research question concerns what I call transnational pronatalism or how pronatalist principles – i.e. ideals and efforts to support nativity – were uttered, staged, motivated, communicated, negotiated and mobilized around as part of transnational exchanges. The project asks how collaborations to promote population, family and procreation were possible when on the one hand performed over national borders and on the other hand based within national contexts, and how pronatalist principles were negotiated in this specific historical and transnational context. By exploring this question historically, the overarching purpose of the project is to historizise the concept pronatalism.
Empirically, the project investigates the interaction and exchanges between three organizations usually framed as “pronatalist”: The Swedish Population and Family Federation (Befolkningsförbundet Svenska Familjevärnet), The Finnish Population and Welfare League (Västelöliitto) and the Swedish Population Federation in Finland (Svenska befolkningsförbundet i Finland). The organizations were established in the early 1940s with similar aims: to increase nativity by promoting positive family values and by supporting the interests of families with many children. Both The Swedish Family Defense and Finnish Väestöliitto have been labelled pronatalist which, given the outspoken aim of each organization, is not a deceptive characteristic. However, in order to historizise the concept, I cannot assume that “pronatalism” consists of a ready-made set of ideas and principles. The research task is to analyze how such ideas and principles were articulated and conceptualized in a historical material. Investigating the interactions between the organizations is a way of doing this, as it means such ideas and principles, explicitly and implicitly, were uttered, staged, motivated, communicated, (re-)negotiated in national and transnational settings. The project investigates how the interactions between the organizations meant that ideas about population, family and fertility were communicated and exchanged, highlighting the common interests that made exchanges possible as well as the limits of the exchanges.
In the presentation, main focus will be on the Swedish organization. I will outline the organization’s main features and present some of its most prominent members, thus situating the organization as an important actor within the historical process of Swedish family policy formation. I will shortly discuss whether the concept “reform technocrat” (Lundin & Stenlås) is a productive way to understand the people involved in the organization as actors in the making of Swedish family and social policy. In order to historicize the organization’s pronatalism, I will discuss how the organization framed its strivings as utterly democratic, thereby explicitly and implicitly positioning itself against population and family policies associated with contemporary authoritarian regimes. (Show less)