Problematical Parents and Critical Children: What Is the Significance of Gunnar and Alva Myrdal's Chequered Family History?

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Abstract

This short article considers four questions about the lives led by Gunnar Myrdal and Alva Myrdal, world-famous Swedish social scientists. What were the social conditions for the development of their ideas? What implications (if any) did their developing social science theories have for their personal lives? Is consistency a necessary requirement in matching words and deeds? Is there any necessary relationship between the public and private lives of eminent scholars and public figures? All three of their children, Jan, Sissela, and Kaj, have written autobiographical accounts which, directly or indirectly, suggest that the Myrdal family was dysfunctional. The implications of this are explored.