Domestic Dexterity

The concept of cottage industry referred especially to rural craft practices. It is a historical concept and it has had many translations in different countries. In the Nordic countries, there have been used the term hemslöjd in Sweden; husflid in Norway and Denmark; heimilisiðnaður in Iceland; and kotiteollisuus in Finland.

The history of cottage industry is rich and vivid in content. In many countries, cottage industry has been promoted either by associations or by official bodies. In these forms of action, the cottage industry movement has summoned a remarkable cultural political factor that has had a strong influence on craft culture.

In my doctoral dissertation (2016) I analysed the history of the  ‘idea of cottage industry’ in Finland. Here, a state administrative organ and a network of cottage industry associations and schools were established along the 20th century for the promotion of cottage industries.

In the study I claim that cottage industry created a 19th-century administrative and political concept that was applied in the first instance to manage critical situations caused by crop failures and other societal hardships. In the aftermath of the WWII, cottage industry was essentially conceived of as a cultural political measure to balance the society facing large settlement and land acquisition projects by creating a sense of cultural continuity through the means of domestic craft practices.

I applied the microhistorical research angle. Following the clue method, I analysed historical sources including committee reports, newspaper articles, meeting and exhibition documents, small publications, and personal archives.

You can download my dissertation at the University of Jyväskylä  Digital Archive (urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-6456-6).