The Cold War, Political Neutrality, and Academic Boundaries: Imprints on the Origins and Early Development of Science Studies in Sweden

  • Aant Elzinga
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology book series (PSHST)


This chapter focuses on Sweden, a neutral country often associated with a third road that combined elements of capitalism and a reformist mode of socialism. The so-called Swedish model was founded on an historical pact between labor and capital dating back to the mid-1930s. This model had implications for science policy in as far as it entailed the Western division between policy for science and science for policy, but with a stronger emphasis than usual on the latter dimension. With the foregoing factors of the Swedish context and its historical trajectory in mind, the chapter traces the emergence and early development of science studies. Given the country’s policy of non-alignment in a space between the two superpowers the Swedish government in the late 1960s and early 1970s took a critical stance on the US war in Vietnam. As in many other countries including the USA, a radical science movement had some intellectual bearing on science studies but in practice, it did not play a significant role in public policies. In terms of disciplines within universities elements of science studies emerged in political science, sociology, business administration (particularly industrial economics and organization), history of ideas, and theory of science. The chapter traces the driving factors and developments at five different sites—Uppsala, Stockholm, Lund, Gothenburg, and Linköping—with special attention to the period of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. A conclusion is that personalities matter but attempts to integrate various parts of science and technology studies (STS) have continually failed due to institutional barriers and the absence of regular funding.

Copyright information

© The Editors and Authors 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aant Elzinga
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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