Enterprising People and the Threat of Impoverishment and Social Loss : The Consequences of Urban Business Failure in Finland at the End of the 1870s
Turunen, R. (2017). Enterprising People and the Threat of Impoverishment and Social Loss : The Consequences of Urban Business Failure in Finland at the End of the 1870s. Journal of Finnish Studies, 20 (1), 254-281.
Published inJournal of Finnish Studies
© Journal of Finnish Studies, 2017. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
This article contemplates the individual level socioeconomic consequences of bankruptcy by studying market-oriented, self-employed people in Jyvaskyla, a small town in central Finland. The article asks if poverty and social loss were inevitable consequences of urban business failure and also seeks to explain why some recovered and others did not. Through the method of collective biography and by utilizing a varied selection of legal documents and parish and governmental materials, this article shows that, even though a bankruptcy could cause serious financial and economic outcomes, and even proletarianize a debtor, impoverishment was not the inevitable consequence of bankruptcy. These bankrupts from the middle social stratum had means to cope. Moreover, the variation between individuals in the consequences of business failure is shown to be contingent upon the existence of certain preconditions, such as the amount of bad debt and the practice of proper behavior.