Gustaf Steffen as a sociologist and politician

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The authors conduct analysis of the scientific and publicist legacy of the Swedish sociologist Gustaf Steffen in the framework of the Swedish and European history at the turn of XIX-XX centuries based on the scientific and political works of G. Steffen, his contemporaries’ responses to these works, mass media reports and a number of official acts of the Riksdag while Steffen was a member of it. In different periods of his life, Steffen’s methodology combined elements of Marxism, Nietzsche’s “elitist ideas”, both M. Weber’s and G. Simmel’s German school tradition, and “intuitive philosophy” of H. Bergson. In general, Steffen’s sociology can be considered a theoretical macro-analysis of the society’s historical development. Although Steffen was the first professor of sociology in the Swedish history (1902), he did not manage to create a scientific school, and after his death in 1929, the development of Swedish sociology was interrupted for almost twenty years. Only after the Second World War T. Segerstedt (Jr) established a school following the American scientific tradition of pragmatic analysis based on quantitative methods. The main reason for the scientific isolation of Steffen was his pro-German position in the First World War: as an ‘activist’ he aimed at drawing Sweden into the war on the German side, but failed and finished his political career in the early 1920s. There are some features the Swedish sociological tradition inherited from Steffen’s theory - “Bergsonism” in the form of analysis of social circumstances of individual life, principal “historicism”, and interdisciplinarity. Thus, Steffen is a true pioneer of the Swedish sociology whose ideas are still relevant.

About the authors

S A Gritsenko

Moscow Technological University (MIREA)

Author for correspondence.


Prosp. Vernadskogo, 78, Moscow, Russia, 119454

N I Chernova

Moscow Technological University (MIREA)



Prosp. Vernadskogo, 78, Moscow, Russia, 119454


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Copyright (c) 2018 Gritsenko S.A., Chernova N.I.

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