1978 – n°2 – juin

All these dramatic events confront the actors with formidable problems. Protective measures must be taken, offensive moves launched, unemployment has to be dampened and the foundation
laid for industrial innovations. Here I need hardly elaborate on the enormous weight that these problems carry: they actively involve thousands of men and women, and central government is spending huge amounts towards their solution.

Here I should like to touch on another aspect, one that is naturally of lesser scope in the sence that society’s efforts are of limited extent, yet one that is qualitatively important, anyway. We must command a conspectus view over what has happened in the past, over what is happening today, and over what is likely to happen to us in the future. By that I refer not only to the demand that we follow up our economic measures and to the necessity of working with forecasts that are as well-grounded as possible. I also add another and more human facet to this theme, call it a moral aspect if you like. We want to understand what has happened to this country, what the human conditions has been really like, how society has become what it is today. At the summit of our prosperity, in a moment when the future is uncertain, it is necessary for us to reflect on the past and on the roots of the present in that what has happened earlier.

Social science research into the industrialized society has long been firmly entrenched in Sweden. The multidisciplinary forms of collaboration that have been established in a series of research projects in recent years have made it feasible to add new data to those known earlier. These team research efforts are important from many points of view. To illustrate, it is necessary to gain greater insight into the process of industrialism, into its technology and organisation. Yesterday’s technological advances had consequences for today’s society, and today’s technological advances will inevitably have consequences for tomorrow’s society. We must command insight into the platform we have built for the future.

The interest in industrial society has been further broadened in recent years and has also manifested itself in new genres. There are intermediate forms between social-history research and pure literature, there is theatre which at the same time is history, politics and literature. From study-circle reports, exhibitions and monographs on local geography and history it is evident that many people are involved and interested in trying tounderstand the present by penetrating more or less partially into its preconditions.

One of the most important sources of knowledge is the material environment around us.

It often contains many historical layers: if they are properly interpreted, they have a great deal to tell us that is otherwise not handed down in writing. It is essential to known and learn to interpret this vast heritage of buildings and plants dating from the breakthrough of industrialism and subsequent stages. And it is important to preserve parts of that heritage to make sure that knowledge of earlier generations’ working environments and living conditions does not become too fragmentary.

Opportunities still abound for reading the history of Swedish industrialisation in preserved buildings or whole environments, some have been saved by acts of will, while much is left because it still serves a practical purpose. We want things to stay that way in the future, too; we want to retain the same mixture of natural use of investments once made and deliberate conservation efforts. And there shall be specialists who can teach us to read meaning into all this and to understand it. At the same time it confronts the professionals with major work tasks. On the one hand there is the task of managing and handling the enormous stock of buildings that has resulted from industrialization and urbanization. One part of that stock will perhaps disappear, but we shall be holding onto the main part for a long time to come – whether we want to or not – and the task then is one of finding the right forms for its upkeep, of preventing deterioration, wear and tear, and of being able to offer future users an environment that retains the qualities of the older building pattern but not its negative elements.

Rechercher sur le site