A Farewell to Involuntary Mobility: Narratives on Homeownership in Mid-Twentieth-Century Finland

Eija Stark

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Until the Interwar period, the majority of the Finnish population lived in small peasant communities in remote parts of the country. Since the growing season was short, much of the country was unsuitable for arable farming, and, in the beginning of the twentieth century, traditional agriculture was not able to employ the increasing population. People moved to towns and industrial centers to seek better economic opportunities and lifestyles and to find employment. In this article, I will analyze the life stories of the common Finnish people, born between 1874 and 1939, who felt compelled to move from their rural family communities. Many of the narrators had integration difficulties in their new environments; for example, living as a tenant in a block of flats was depicted as difficult and, therefore, many of them returned to the rural countryside in order to set up a smallholding of their own. For many, ownership of a small farm and the rural lifestyle it provided represented the cultural norm, and the images of a farmhouse received the typical characteristics of a "key-symbol." The article discusses mobility within a nation-state as a cultural involuntary experience.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)119–136
JournalJournal of Finnish Studies
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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