Sven Eliaeson

Sven Eliaeson obtained his PhD in Political Science at Uppsala University in 1982.

He became a Senior Lecturer at Karlstad's University in 1990, Docent in Political Science at Stockholm University in 1996, and since 2001 he has been a Professor of Sociology at the Centre for Social Studies.

The classics - in particular Max Weber and his context and the proper pursuit of intellectual history - are his main areas of research. He is also interested in intellectual migration and is elaborating on "the long line of secularization" in social thought, which includes such scholars as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Bentham, Max Weber, and also Axel Hagerstrőm and Gunnar Myrdal, two Swedish scholars extending Max Weber's value philosophy.

Professor Eliaeson has published a number of articles on Myrdal and Hogerstrőm as well as edited volumes on comparative secessions and Nordic security policy, areas more remote from the RCHS agenda. Together with Stanford Lyman he edited "Alva and Gunnar Myrdal: A Symposium on Their Lives and Works" in the International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society (2001). He recently published Max Weber's Methodologies. Interpretation and Critique with Polity Press (2002).

Professor Eliaeson has been a frequent visiting scholar at various universities in Germany (Ludwig Maximilians-Universitat, the Max Weber archives at the Bavarian Academy of Science in Munich and the University of Konstanz) as well as in the US (University of South Florida, University of Florida and University of Chicago). He has been a recurrent visiting professor in Sociology at CSS/GSSR at IFiS PAN in Warsaw and a Senior Research Fellow at Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University.

Research project: Gunnar Myrdal as a Weberian and European Public Intellectual

Myrdal pursued double careers, as a politician and as a scholar, and he was a public intellectual on at least three continents. All his life he wrestled with bias, how to deal with uncontrolled value intrusion, from 1929 to 1969. Also in his most famous and possibly most influential book on An American Dilemma (1944) appendices at length deals with explicit value premises. Myrdal became a “guru” for the civil rights movement and was also quoted in Brown vs Board of Education in 1954, the supreme court decision which ended school segregation.

The combination of being a compassionate world improver and Hägerströmian “value nihilist” is by no means impossible but not exactly self-evident for American Enlightenment thinkers.

Myrdal’s correspondence is enormous and only partly utilized. There are several apocryphals in his Nachlass. Moreover, several of his most important books are not translated. Myrdal belonged to the Stockholm School of Economics (Bertil Ohlin, Dag Hammarkjöld) which argued for Keynesian economic policy before Keynes. He was also an exponent of Scandinavian Legal Realism (Alf Ross, Karl Olivecrona, Vilhelm Lundstedt). Sources of inspiration were Max Weber and Axel Hägerström, although the relation to Weber is a matter of interpretation.

As ECE-director (1947-57) Myrdal did his best to accommodate between East and West from a position of “Small state realism” and his journal intime, over 80 long letters to his boss at UN headquarter 1947-53 are very personal and one gets close to a personal and witty Gunnar in these narratives.

Myrdal is very critical of corruption, which is always irrational since it works with delays. Asian Drama (1967) launches concepts such as soft state.

In high age Myrdal becomes Sweden’s “grumpy old man”, critical of large scale solutions. He seems to neglect his own responsibility for Swedish social engineering. He is especially critical of the new constitution of the 1970s.

Myrdal’s “productive” view on demography is still both controversial and relevant, on a pan-European level.

Dates of stay: 01 October 2017 - 31 July 2018