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Gunnar Myrdal: A Theorist of Modernity

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Gunnar Myrdal's contribution to social science could be encapsulated in the following key words: secularization, intellectual migration and trans-Atlantic reciprocity, objectivity and value-intrusion (-bias), the role of philanthropy, Protestant reform creed, social engineering, and national styles of research. Myrdal's central role in the history of social thought is his part in facilitating the diffusion of Weberian value-orientation, despite differences in nuances between Myrdal and his neo-Kantian predecessors. His oeuvre is multi-disciplinary and he could himself be characterized in terms of a number of antinomies, such as the parochial cosmopolitan, the patriotic internationalist, the compassionate 'nihilist', the elitist egalitarian, the social Darwinist anti-racist, the male chauvinist feminist, the ahistorical 'historicist', the conservative socialist, etc. He never hesitated to take a controversial position. Essentially he is a theorist of modernity, combining ambiguity and antinomies with anti-metaphysics (anti-natural law, instrumental means-end-analyses).

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2000

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