Lundin, Per, Niklas Stenlås, and Johan Gribbe, eds., 2010, 324pp., clothbound and jacketed, illus. in black and white and color
Science for welfare and warfare investigates the establishment of state-led science and technology in the economic and industrial development or cold war Sweden. Written by Swedish historians, the book examines how the state gradually took on a new role during and after the second world war; how this role was justified; how it thoroughly transformed Swedish society and economy over the following several decades. In virtually all sectors of society, government committees were assigned to survey the needs and propose reforms, new institutions were formed to house and provide the necessary expertise, and many large-scale technological initiatives were launched. These comprehensive reforms resulted in the strong state that came to characterize cold war Sweden—a state consisting of both welfare institutions and warfare machinery. The contributing authors demonstrate that science and technology-minded participants by and large both designed and carried out these reforms. Science for welfare and warfare describes these architects, economists, engineers, and scientists whose ambitions were to plan and build the society as reform technocrats. In order to realize their beliefs and visions, the reform technocrats needed reasons grand enough to justify a strong state commitment. The reasons they referred to were either to create welfare or to maintain national independence—or both.
“In a compelling interdisciplinary study, Lundin and his colleagues reevaluate the social-engineering capacity of the Swedish state, the use of national myths to justify collective action and enable societal reform(s), and the power behind the decisions to redefine the state from warfare and welfare to information and ecology. No other work combines history, technology, power, reform, agriculture, globalism, and the role of the military and state-led industrialization with the evolution of state-society relations. Relying on theory, practice, and expertise across multiple fields, this edited volume has twelve chapters that cohere well in redefining the ways in which Sweden conveys power at home, and serves as an examplar to others . . . The volume is recommended reading for everyone interested in Scandinavian studies, international political economy, Swedish history, and the role of ecology and information technology in creating new markets and new ways of engaging in a digital age.” —Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 2012, 42(3): 469–471
“ . . . considers how the state evolved during and after World War II, and how its new direction changed Swedish society and all aspects of its structure; . . . an outstanding, technical history perfect for college-level collections.” —California Bookwatch
“In the 1950s a nation of seven million people possessed the world’s fourth-largest air force. This fact is a particularly remarkable manifestation of Sweden’s postwar status as a technological power disproportionate to its size. Given the importance ascribed to technology as means of improving nations’ competitiveness, the historical strategies of the Swedish state and industry should be of considerable interest. This volume provides a valuable service by presenting original research into some of these strategies. In doing so, it also builds on and references a substantial existing literature, much of which is only available in Swedish . . . However, without any evaluation of the scale of sectors within the national economy, and quantitative comparisons between policy alternatives as well as between Sweden and other nations, it remains difficult to gauge how the government, the military, commercial firms, and other institutions chose between options and constructed budgets. Economic historians will be disappointed by this volume’s dearth of numbers, but should consider it a crucial resource nevertheless.” — Economic History Review, 2012, 65(1)