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Social Science and the “Swedish Model”: Sociology at the Service of the Welfare State

  • Katrin Fridjonsdottir
Part of the Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook book series (SOSC, volume 15)

Abstract

Sometimes scholars use basic concepts that lack anything like a consistent, formal “textbook” definition, concepts which scholars themselves may reach agreement on only temporarily and precariously and where a process of continuous redefinition and contest is rather the normal course of events. Society is such a concept, both within sociology and within the social sciences as a whole. In this instance the concept denotes the basic field of research which these sciences have in common, while each of the social science disciplines has developed through a process of differentiation and specialization with respect to various aspects of the development and structure of modern society. Such a process of delimitation and differentiation, of “fencing-in” as it were, has of course been essential for the establishment of the identity of the disciplines. It has been equally important for their consolidation as intellectual traditions and as professional specialties entering into a range of relationships of service to modern society and its various groupings as well as bureaucracies.

Keywords

Structural Functionalism Sociological Research Social Democracy Normative Integration Swedish Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Katrin Fridjonsdottir (ed.), Om svensk sociologi. Historia, problem och perspektiv, Stockholm: Carlssons förlag, 1987.Google Scholar
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    This is not to say that Segerstedt did not influence his pupils! See e.g. U. Himmelstrand’s thesis, Social Pressures, Attitudes and Democratic Processes, Stockholm: Almqvist & Wicksell, 1960, and — of course-Hans Zetterberg’s “Compliant Actions”, Acta Sociologica, 1957, pp. 179–201.Google Scholar
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    Johan Asplund, “Sociologistudier i Uppsala i början av sextiotalet” in Fridjonsdottir (ed.), Om svensk sociologi op. cit. cf. note 1), p. 136.Google Scholar
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    One example is the sociology of work, with which I have dealt in Fridjonsdottir, “Social Change, Trade Union politics, and the Sociology of Work” in Stuart S. Blume et al. (eds.), The Social Direction of the Public Sciences (Yearbook Sociology of the Sciences, Vol. XI), Dordrecht: Reidel Publishing Co., 1987. See also E. Dahlström, “The Role of the Social Sciences in Working Life Policy: The Case of Postwar Sweden”, in H. Berglind et al. (eds.), Sociology of Work in the Nordic Countries, Oslo: The Scandinavian Sociological Association, 1978.Google Scholar
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    Some people, students of the present day among them, have sometimes wondered what constituted the vital difference between “hard” and “soft” data and what it was that gave so much intellectual excitement to the “soft-data debate”. In other words, the debate must be set in its context and in the light of what was then predominant in Swedish sociology. Those who are keenly interested can be recommended to read the issues of the journal from these years. Some guidance is provided in Gullberg, op. cit. For an interesting but later observation about the use of soft methods in Swedish sociology see G6ran Ahrne, “Kvalitativ svensk sociologi”, Sociologisk Forskning, nos. 3/4,1984.Google Scholar
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  31. 32.
    The increasing unrest in the labour market during the later ‘60s, when wild strikes broke out on a large scale, quite likely acted as an alarm clock not only for the parties active on the market but also for sociologists. For example, attempts to explain the causes of the strikes led to a certain reorientation in the sociology of work (see the works of Fridjonsdottir and Dahlstrflm mentioned in note 26 above). The so-called “Låginkomstutredningen” (lit. Low-income inquiry) and the results of its studies of living standards (which showed amongst other things that welfare was not at all as equitably distributed in Sweden as officials had claimed) stirred up an essentially politico-ideological debate, but the researchers hardly remained unaffected-although probably not in exactly the same way events on the labour market (and the results of studies of these events) affected those engaged in the sociology of work. In connection with his work with the studies on living standards for the “Låginkomstutredning”, Sten Johansson levelled the following criticism at the normative approach (and its attitudinal surveys) adopted by Swedish sociology: “To ask a person if his needs are satisfied thus does not provide any information about this person’s standard of living (actual living conditions) but rather about how effective the social mechanisms in the persons’ surroundings are when it comes to controlling his or her level of demand.” S. Johansson, Om levnadsnivåundersökningen, Allmänna bokförlaget, 1970.Google Scholar
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    U._ Himmelstrand, “Sociologikrisens efterbörd” in (see note 1).Google Scholar
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  34. 35.
    U. Himmelstrand et al., “Ett universitetsämnes innehall: Utvecklingstendenser inom svensk sociologi under åren 1967–1972”, Sociolognytt, no. 6, 1974, p. 24.Google Scholar
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    Amongst the older generation there were also some who welcomed the “reorientation”: see B. Pfannenstil, “Från praktisk filosofi till sociologi” in (see note 1).Google Scholar
  36. 37.
    Concerning this development, although mainly from the perspective of Lund, see also G. Therborn, “Brytningarnas och genombrottens årtionde — den unga vänstern och resten av 1960-talet” in L. Wikström (ed.), Marx i Sverige, Stockholm: Arbetarkultur, 1983.Google Scholar
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    See U. Himmelstrand’s article in (see note 1).Google Scholar
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    Cf. the studies of changes in course reading lists 1967–1972 Ett universitetsämnes innehall: Utvecklingstendenser inom svensk sociologi under åren 1967–1972”, Sociolognytt, no. 6, 1974, p. 24. (note 35).Google Scholar
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    E. Allardt, “Svensk sociologi i ett nordiskt perspektiv” in (see note 1), p. 248.Google Scholar
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    See Allardt et al., (1988), Svensk sociologi i ett nordiskt perspektiv” Sociologin i Sverige, Uppsala: HSFR & UHÄ, 1988. op. cit. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Klower Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katrin Fridjonsdottir

There are no affiliations available

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