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Choosing Futures: Alva Myrdal and the Construction of Swedish Futures Studies, 1967–1972

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2006

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This article discusses the Swedish discourse on futures studies in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It focuses on the futures discourse of the group appointed by the Prime Minister, Olof Palme, in 1967 under the chairmanship of Alva Myrdal. The Swedish futures discourse focused on futures studies as a democratic means of reform in defence of the Swedish model and “Swedish” values of solidarity and equality, in opposition to an international futurology dominated by the Cold War and dystopic narratives of global disaster. The article suggests that the creation of Swedish futures studies, culminating in a Swedish institute for futures studies, can be seen as a highpoint of postwar planning and the Swedish belief in the possibility of constructing a particularly Swedish future from a particularly Swedish past.

Research Article
2006 Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis


This article was first presented to the conference Alva Myrdal's Questions to Our Time, Uppsala, 6–8 March 2002, and subsequently published in Swedish as “Alvas framtider”, in Christina Florin and Torbjörn Lundqvist (eds), Historia – en väg till framtiden? Perspektiv på det förflutnas roll i framtidsstudier (Stockholm, 2003). I am much obliged to my interviewees, Professors Birgitta Odén, Lars Ingelstam, Marianne Frankenhaeuser, and Torsten Hägerstrand, and for comments by Professors Lena Sommestad, Rolf Torstendahl, Arne Kaijser, and Christina Florin.