I det modernas landskap. Historisk orientering och kritiska berättelser om det moderna Sverige mellan 1960 och 1990

Translated title of the contribution: In the Landscape of Modernity. Historical Orientation and Critical Narratives of Modern Sweden between 1960 and 1990

Martin Wiklund

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The aim of the study is to make visible a field of conflicting narratives of modern Sweden expressed by different political groups and to contribute to the working through of the conflict of interpretation. Four political challenges to the established success story of Sweden's development from a poor society to modern welfare state, are analysed: the Left in the 1960s, the new Women's movement in the 1970s, the Alternative movement and the Environmental Party in the late 1970s and early 1980s and, finally, the liberal challenge of the Moderates in the 1980s. The general questions are: What narratives about modern Sweden were developed by the different political groups? What kinds of criticism against modern Sweden did the different political groups express? The empirical analyses also aim to throw light on two more general questions: What is a plausible narrative of modern Sweden? How should the plausibility of narratives be discussed and assessed? The source material consists mainly of political magazines and to some extent of political programs and publications related to the different political groups.

A perspective on historical narratives inspired by Jörn Rüsen and a method for analysing historical narratives are developed. Narratives are seen as ways of expressing criticism and orienting practice, making the present comprehensible in the light of the past in order to be able to confront the future. With inspiration from Charles Taylor, orientation and understanding one's identity is explained as finding out one's standpoint in relation to important places in a landscape of values and what goal is worth pursuing. In the landscape of modernity, narratives of modernity interpret a certain society's past, present and possible or probable future directions of development and express criticism, hopes and fears. In this study, the most important goals and directions in the landscape are made up by the ideals inherent in enlightenment, romanticism and the different political ideologies.

The narratives that are analysed include narratives of modern Sweden as a bourgeois, centralist, authoritarian and capitalist society (the "New Left"), as a monopolistic-capitalist, fascist society (the Marxist-Leninists), as a monopolistic-capitalist and patriarchal society (the Marxist feminists), as a society dominated by a technological, rationalist and male culture (the women's culture feminists), as a conventional, technocratic, growth oriented society (the alternative movement), and as either a liberal and individualistic society threatened by collectivist and totalitarian socialism or a collectivist, socialist or Social Democratic and almost totalitarian society (the Moderates). Most of the criticism of modernity was directed against either the lack of democracy or excessive rationalism. Other dimensions of the critique of modern Sweden are the lack of community, warmth, authenticity, beauty, meaningfulness, ideological commitment and individual responsibility. A critique of instrumental rationality and objectification can be found in all of the groups, directed against capitalism, socialism, technocracy or patriarchy. In the last chapter, it is argued that assessing narratives involves questions about how a certain society and its direction of development should be evaluated, what problems and conflicts are most relevant, the plausibility of solutions and future goals and the plausibility of the self-understanding expressed and the relationship to other actors/groups. It is suggested that more comprehensive narratives can be achieved through reflection on the viewpoints implied in particular narratives and a gradual widening of perspective. In order to contribute to a historically well-motivated, balanced, just and non-discriminatory practice, both defenders and critics of modern Sweden ought to be included in the narrative and visions of the future ought to be able to take earlier criticism into account.
Translated title of the contributionIn the Landscape of Modernity. Historical Orientation and Critical Narratives of Modern Sweden between 1960 and 1990
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • History
  • Salomon, Kim, Supervisor
  • Andersson, Lars M, Supervisor
Award date2006 Jun 12
ISBN (Print)91-7139-753-1
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2006-06-12
Time: 10:15
Place: Sal 3, Historiska institutionen, Magle stora kyrkogata 12 A, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Björk, Ragnar
Title: Docent
Affiliation: Södertörns högskola


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • History

Free keywords

  • liberalism
  • ecologism
  • feminism
  • socialism
  • cultural radicalism
  • enlightenment
  • romanticism
  • the Moderates
  • the Green Party
  • Environmental Party
  • the Alternative movement
  • the New Women's movement
  • the New Left
  • the Social Democrats
  • Charles Taylor
  • Jürgen Habermas
  • Jörn Rüsen
  • hermeneutics
  • discourse ethics
  • communicative rationality
  • validity claims
  • historical orientation
  • historical consciousness
  • modernism
  • landscape of modernity
  • narrative analysis
  • narratives of modernity
  • criticism of modernity
  • the People's home
  • modern Sweden
  • the welfare state
  • History
  • Historia
  • Theory of history
  • Historieteori
  • Contemporary history (since 1914)
  • Nutidshistoria (från 1914)
  • Political history
  • Politisk historia


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