Part of the bourgeoise community? Jewish entrepreneurs and their networks in early 19th century Gothenburg

The argument in favour of permitting Jewish immigration to Sweden in 1782 was that Jews were considered beneficial to economic development. During the 1800s, Jewish entrepreneurs in Gothenburg came to play a prominent economic role. In this article, we discuss the extent to which the Jewish minority became an integrated part of the bourgeoisie, based on empirical studies of its participation in associations and commercial networks. How did the availability of “useful” contacts differ depending on economic position and gender?

Even though there was some resistance to Jews, we could conclude that at least some of the Jews relatively quickly became part of the bourgeois community. In the voluntary sector, Jews became involved in organizations connected to trade, education and charity. However, it was not just ethnicity that was an obstacle to inclusion, but also economic position and gender. An elite within the Jewish group had more influence and wider networks than others. This elite consisted mainly of wealthy men, with both an economic and a social capital and with a solid reputation in the Jewish community. They were often relatives or companions. The barriers that ethnicity created for the Jews, were to some extent overcome by access to financial capital.