• Kristoffer Kornum
4. term, History, Master (Master Programme)

This master’s thesis aims to explore the representation of the working-class in the Danish Temperance Movement, more specifically the Independent Order of Good Templars (I.O.G.T), and examine how this representation influenced the collaboration with the Workers Movement, mainly focusing on the political reception of temperance values in the Social Democratic Party. The analysis will furthermore be focusing on how the Temperance Movement tried to propagate their desire for a stricter alcohol policy including the wish for prohibition and how this influenced the Parliament’s alcohol policy-making from 1880 to 1924.
The first part of the analysis is methodologically designed as a case study examining the class distribution of members in the I.O.G.T lodge "Morgenrøden" located in Aalborg. The analytical and hypothetical parameters of the case study are based on earlier research regarding this topic and the study will serve as a further contribution to the claims put forward about the class background regarding the members of the Temperance Movement in the newly industrialized cities in Denmark at the beginning of the 1880s. The analysis will discuss the arguments put forward about the purpose of the I.O.GT lodges: Was it a disciplinary agency dominated by small-business owners or did the working-class become members to gain more self-discipline to cope with the changing structures of society?
The second part of the analysis concerning the alcohol policy-making and the public debate about prohibition will be based on data from newspapers and published negotiations from the Danish Parliament. This part of the analysis is derived to take a closer look at the political discussions related to prohibition, alcohol consumption, and its negative effects on the lower classes of the Danish society. The historical analysis is supplemented with sociological theories related to class analysis and theories about the American Temperance movement to apply a broader perspective concerning the historical narrative of the activities of the Danish Temperance Movement.
The thesis claims that the Temperance Movement located in the industrialized cities not exclusively was a class disciplinary community, but should be seen more as a working-class community where members could achieve an economical safety net and obtain more respectable living conditions. The democratization process in Denmark also created an opportunity for the Temperance Movement to aspire for more political influence and the fight for sobriety echoed with the desire of the Social Democratic Party to improve working-class conditions. The sobriety values proposed by the Temperance Movement gained in the period acceptance from the lower house in the Danish Parliament, but the conservative dominated upper house was more sceptical about making legal measures restricting the accessibility of alcohol. A compromise was made between the two houses resulting in the Pub-act (Beværterloven) from 1912, which became a small victory for the temperance members of Parliament, but the more radical part of the Temperance Movement still demanded a political move towards national prohibition. To protect Denmark from grain shortage under the First World War the government decided to legislate a three-week long prohibition on distilled spirits, and a wartime optimism spread between prohibitionists. The movement's fight for a permanent prohibition triggered a counter-motion in the form of The Defenders of Personal Freedom (Den Personlige Friheds Værn). The conflict should not be regarded as a dispute over the harmful effects of alcohol, but a conflict based on the concerns about the legal restrictions on personal freedom. Permanent prohibition never got the necessary political support and the prohibition movement could only find support regarding making smaller local prohibitions along the sparsely-populated countryside. The Danish Alcohol politics remained on a relatively liberal foundation in comparison to the other Scandinavian countries, and with the political focus on making higher taxes on distilled spirits instead of moving towards prohibition conflicting with rights of personal freedom, the Danish way to sobriety was finally secured.
Publication date2 Jun 2020
Number of pages69
ID: 333431936