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När Michels oligarkilag kom till Sverige: Debatten om partiliv och demokratisering
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Work.
1997 (Swedish)In: Sociologisk forskning, ISSN 0038-0342, Vol. 43, no 1/2, 149-176 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

During his work on Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der Modernen Demokratie (1911) Robert Michels was exposed to the rival influences of Weber and Italian theories of elites. At the same time, he moved from an emphasis on a syndicalistic critique of democracy in the labour movement to a determinedly sceptical attitude to democracy. The inconsistencies in Michels' magnum opus resulted in a complex political as well as scientific reception of the Iron Law of Oligarchy in Sweden between 1911 and 1920. For the conservative and nationalistic Young Right, Michels' book illustrated the nature of parliamentary government and the party system as simply veiled oligarchy. The Young Right, thereby, seized on the aspects in Michels' work dealing with the theory of elites, though the differences between Michels and the Young Right are at the same time crucial. For Michels party oligarchies were a problem of democracy, whereas for the Young Right they were a national question; modern party politics hides and distracts from the interests of the nation. Dispite these differentb points of departure, Michels and the Young Right develop a similar discussion about how the "quantitative" feature of democracy can be replaced by a more "qualitative" form of government. For the Young Right the nation could be saved by an authoritarian, corporative form of government, and in time Michels found in fascism an alternative to a "hypocritical" and "ineffective" democracy. The Left within the Social Democratic Party also seized in Michels' work. However, the Left did not seek a general theory in it but rather a diagnosis of the condition of the labour movement. Under the general concept of oligarchy the left was able to collect its criticism of the Social Democratic Party's methods of exploiting the new parliamentary opportunities that arose in this period. As the opposition between the left and right wings of the party intensified, the Left moved closer to the sceptical attitudes to democracy contained in Zur Soziologie des Partewesens. Gustaf Steffen, a sociologist, and during the first part of the decade a Social Democratic senator, tried, in a polemic against both the Left and Michels, to provide a 'scientific basis' for the Social Democratic Party position. Steffen's contribution strongly emphasised the importance of the right of freedom of action for elected representatives, a tendency which was strengthened when Steffen became pro-German, as did the Young Right, during the First World War. Steffen's sociology was subordinated to both the desire to revise the doctrines of the Social Democratic Party and a critique of the entente powers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
1997. Vol. 43, no 1/2, 149-176 p.
Keyword [sv]
Michels, oligarkilagen, politisk sociologi
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-894Local ID: 1404OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-894DiVA: diva2:25926
Available from: 2008-09-30 Created: 2008-09-30 Last updated: 2011-01-10Bibliographically approved

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