”Forskningen om individ och samhälle måste internationaliseras”

Alva Myrdals samhällsvetenskapliga internationalism 1950–1955


  • Per Wisselgren Umeå universitet


Alva Myrdal, social scientific internationalism, UNESCO, Department of Social Sciences, Cold War


Early post-World War II international social science was marked by paradoxical tendencies. On the one hand it experienced a rapid expansion underblown by a new optimistic internationalism. On the other hand, many of the initiatives taken were increasingly affected by emerging Cold War tensions. Embedded in these cross-currents of internationalism and geopolitics, UNESCO’s Department of Social Sciences (SSD) played a key role. The aim of this article is to analyze Alva Myrdal’s social scientific internationalism during her term as Director of UNESCO’s SSD, 1950–1955, in the context of other contemporary ideas on international social science. Empirically centred around fifteen key texts by Myrdal, the article argues: first, that a relatively distinct core in Myrdal’s view on international social science can be discerned; second, that her social scientific internationalism by large were in line with the previous and dominating views within UNESCO’s SSD, but also that Myrdal introduced and advocated a more interdisciplinary, applied and polycentric approach to international social science; third, that some discrete but important displacements can be discerned – in spite of the short period – over time.