Interview with Fredrik Sandgren

Photo: Karin Ågren

Fredrik is Head of the Department at Economic History since 2017. He is an Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer and defended his PhD Thesis in 1999 on the rural retail trade during the late 1800’s. His continued research focuses on retail and regional economic change during the 1800’s. Fredrik has dedicated time to the role as Director of Studies from 2009 until 2017 when he took on the role as Head of Department.

Presents yourself in a few words
Born in the late 60’s and grew up in Botkyrka, south of Stockholm. My intentions were to become a journalist focusing on Political Science, but being introduced to Economic History during the first term at the Bachelor's Programme in Social Sciences really caught my attention to this fantastic combination of history, economics and politics. I devote my spare time to family, exercise and music.

How do you view the role as Head of Department and what motivated you to accept the appointment?
As Head of Department one should ensure that staff and students are given good opportunities to perform well. The content and character of research and education should emanate from those directly responsible. The maintaining of good practice and quality should be based on individual and collegial decisions. The competence and professionality of each colleague should be trusted. The basic support for the Head should be the Department Board, the Directors of Studies, the administrative staff and other collegial bodies and their competence and professionality.

Tell us a little bit about your research and why you think that economic history is important.
I have focused on Swedish retail history from various perspectives and different periods but also on regional perspectives, mainly the transition from agricultural to industrial societies. I am presently writing a book on the history of Swedish retailing from 1750 until present time. This may be the beginning of the end of my retail research as I have ideas for other projects I would like to take on before retirement.

I believe that economic history provides a perspective that is central to understanding how the society and the economy. This perspective can of course be found in other areas but I think that our tradition of understanding structure and actors, the connection between economics, politics and cultures or mentalities as well as the combination of statistics and awareness of individual motives are both valuable and useful. Economic historians should be given more attention and also take up more room in the public debate.

What advice can you give to someone who are just starting a career as a researcher?
Start with what you think is interesting and important. Don’t be overly strategic but consider yourself as a self-employed researcher and teacher. Grab the opportunities that are offered, but trust your gut feeling.

April 2020​