Lars Trägårdh and modernization theory

Lars Trägårdh is a Swedish historian who has studied in the U.S. In his doctoral thesis he compared the concept of the people in Sweden and Germany, during the historical period that led up to the political developments in the 1930s.

In this thesis he claims that “If there is little place for reductionist grand theories rooted in (over)optimistic and teleological modernization theories, it is equally true that narrow, self contained national histories have become increasingly more anachronistic and irrelevant to the great questions of the day that relate to the accelerating globalization of economic and political life.”

Trägårdh, Lars. The Concept of the People and the Construction of Popular Political Culture in Germany and Sweden: 1848-1933. Berkeley: University of California, 1993, p. 49.

This is important because the utopian description of Sweden has arguably been a product of modernization theory combined with a national historiography with a limited comparative outlook.

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