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Mats Lindberg

Title: Professor Emeritus School/office: School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences


Phone: +46 19 303000

Room: -

Mats Lindberg

Research subject

About Mats Lindberg

CV in brief March 2020

Mats Lindberg (former Dahlkvist), Born 1947 in Gagnef, Dalecarlia, raised in a vicarage in Torsång and Falun. Anti-apartheid activist at high school. Reserv officer in the Artillery. Member of the Social Democratic Party and the Swedish (state) church.

Academic education

1968–71   Undergraduate studies at Uppsala University in International History (3 semesters), Theoretical Philosophy (1 semester), Economic History (2 semesters), English Language and Literature (1 semester), Political Science (4 semesters). At Gothenburg University Philosophy and Theory of Science (3 semesters).

1971–79     Postgraduate studies in Political Science, Uppsala. Doctorate in 1979.
Ditto in Philosophy and Theory of Science at Gothenburg University, 1973-1980. Never fullfilled.


1973-79   Amanuensis at the Political Science Dep. at Uppsala University.

1979–86  Post Doc Lecturer in Political Science at Uppsala University as well as
Gothenburg University. Appointed Research Fellow, Gothenburg 1986.

1986–98   Senior Lecturer, Research Fellow at Gothenburg and Karlstad universities.

1998–2001  Professor of Political Science at Karlstad University. Director of the post graduate program of Political Science. Vice Dean of faculty.

2001–2014 Professor of Political Science at Örebro University. Head of Department. Director of studies.

Lecturing and supervising


*Study circles on "The history of ideas in the worker's movement", around the country.

*Study circles on Karl Marx' Capital, foremost in Uppsala, but also Stockholm and Gothennurg, in connection with The Nordic Summer University.

1979– 2014      Gothenburg, Karlstad and Örebro universities

* Yearly courses on the post-graduate level in Political Theory, Qualitative Method, Philosophy of science. The same on the master-level and the bachelor-level.

* Supervisor of a dozen doctoral dissertations in democratic theory, political philosophy or public policy, at Gothenburg, Karlstad and Örebro universities.

* Reviewer or examiner of just as many dissertations in Political Science at my home universities and other universities in Sweden, some in History and Intellectual History.

*  Referee commissions, about ten, for post docs, lectureships, research fellowships or professorships in Political Science, at several of the universities in Sweden

Specific events

1994   Co-founder and primus motor of The Swedish Network in Political Theory, of the Swedish Political Science Association (SWEPSA); still vital.

1999–2001 Developing and giving a cross-faculty, mandatory, postgraduate course in the Philosophy of Science, for all Ph D-students (of the humanities, sciences, social sciences, at the. in 1999, newly constituted Karlstad University.

2004–2014. Member of the editing board of Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift (Journal of the Political Sciences).

2008 The Students' Union's prize for outstanding pedagogy, Örebro University.

2011–2013 I developed and gave an undergraduate course “Political Islam, old and new”, really widening my historical and political horizons.

Research and research interests, biographically narrated up to now

In the 1970s I was engaging in philosophy of science, general social theory and ‘state theory’. Like so many in my generation I was inspired by the wave of New Left criticism and Marxist thought. My first book, of 1975, was a critical study on the Swedish “capitalist state” and the role of the social democracy, Staten socialdemokratin och socialismen. Stockholm: Prisma (State, Social Democracy and Socialism). In its empirical focus, the book was rather similar of Ralph Milibands earlier The State in Capitalist Society (1969) although informed by Nicos Poulantzas'  structural Marxist state theory.

Parallel to so many colleagues of my generation, though, I gradually developed a critical understanding of the Marxist legacy, regarded as a general social theory. This fact became evident in my extensive (650-page) theory-critical doctoral dissertation (in Swedish)  from 1978 on Karl Marx’s Capital, laying bare the interesting theoretical structure of Capital and criticizing the three main strands of Marxist theory of the time, including Karl Popper's reading of Capital.. The dissertation was titled Att studera Kapitalet. Lund: Bo Cavefors (Studying Capital). It was followed by a handful theory-critical essays and articles from about 1980 (all in Swedish) in which I, partly unwittingly, held pace with the international internal criticism going on in Marxist circles, from Jürgen Habermas to Anthony Giddens. From this period I want to mention the essay in Marxist state theory and theory of history Staten som problem (1982), Lund: Arkiv (The State as a theoretical problem),  and the introduction (1984) to the Swedish translation of Jürgen Habermas’ early work Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit, in Swedish Borgerlig offentlighet (1984), Lund: Arkiv. This was a little text that became widely read in undergraduate courses in several disciplines, especially in Media Studies. After the middle of the 1980s I left the Marxist realm for good, I thought.

During the late 1980s and the 1990s, at Gothenburg university, I was instead deep into the comparative history of Political Science and the conceptual history of Political Theory, ending up in two unpublished manuscripts, waiting for an upgrade. I was also the initiator of a little research project on the growth of the public sector in the OECD-countries, as well as one on the Swedish principled, constitutional debate on local government since the 1860s. From the 1990s I will mention two essays (both in Swedish). The one on the concept of ‘civil society’ in classical and pre-modern social and political theory,and its usage in contemporary academic discourse, both on the left and the right, published in Trägårdh, Lars (ed.) (1995) Civilt samhälle eller offentlig sektor, Stockholm: SNS förlag (Civil society or Public Sector). The other essay, written together with Urban Strandberg, concerns the myth on the Swedish Sonderweg of  ‘local self-government’ including a critical analysis of the concept as such, with the title "Den svenska statstraditionen och den lokala självstyrelsen" (SOU 1999: 76, pp. 257–318) (The Swedish State Tradition and Local Government).

About 2007, I initiated, together with Jörgen Hermansson, Li Bennich-Björkman (Uppsala), Ludvig Beckman, Ulf Mörkenstam (Stockholm) and Björn Badersten (Lund) a research and digitalization project about the renowned Swedish political scientist Herbert Tingsten. The digitalization project was eventually placed at Lund University with Björn Badersten as director. Tingsten was a prominent figure in the development of Political Science in Sweden in the 1930s and 1940s. In the late 1940s he became the chief editor of the main liberal newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, dominating the Swedish political debate of the 1950s, being an ardent defender of the principles of liberal democracy as well as of the social welfare state.

However, in 2011, leaving Tingsten for a while, I unexpectedly was asked to write an ’Introduction’ to the new edition of Marx’ Capital in Swedish (Arkiv publishing house). After some hesitation, since my knowledge on the subject appeared outdated to me, I accepted the offer and the introduction (controversial, since explicitly non-leninist) appeared after two years work in 2013 (for 30 pages of text!) (leaving a long unpublished manuscript in the drawer). The same year, Arkiv publishing house decided to issue a new edition of my 35 years old doctoral dissertation on Capital. These events also lead to an offer from Marcello Musto and Babak Amini, as editors, to author the chapter on ‘Sweden’ in Routledge Handbook on Marx’ Capital (forthcoming 2021).

My actual research the last five years have concerned idea-analysis and rational political understanding. In fact, I have since my student years been inspired by the mentioned Herbert Tingsten, and his rationalistic idea-criticism and his program of the rationalizing mission of Political Science in the liberal democracy. So far, this recent research focus of mine has resulted in the chapter (4) “Qualitative Analysis of ideas and ideological content” in Boréus, Kristina & Bergström, Göran (eds.) 2017. Analyzing Text and discourse. Eight Approaches for the Social Sciences. London: Sage, pp. 87–121, and in a long essay in two parts in Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift (StvT), issue 120 (2018), presenting an analytical framework and theory for rational political understanding, analysis and criticism. The title is “The VDP–triad in Ideational Analysis”, Part I in StvT 2018/2, pp. 277–359, and Part II in StvT 2018/3–4, pp. 435–554.


Articles in journals |  Articles, book reviews |  Books |  Chapters in books | 

Articles in journals

Articles, book reviews


Chapters in books

Lindberg, M. (2017). Qualitative analysis of ideas and ideological content. In: Boréus, Kristina and Bergström, Göran, Analyzing text and discourse: eight approaches for the social sciences (pp. 86-121). London: Sage Publications.
Lindberg, M. (2013). "Inledning". In: Kapitalet. Kritik av den politiska ekonomin: Första boken. Kapitalets produktionsprocess (pp. V-XLIII). Lund: Arkiv Förlag.