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Mats Lindberg

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


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Mats Lindberg
Research subject

About Mats Lindberg

Mats Lindberg is professor emeritus in Political Science. His main fields of research are political theory and political ideas, Swedish politics, idea-analytical method, the history of the social sciences .


CV in brief of December 2021

Mats Lindberg (former Dahlkvist), was born in 1947 in Gagnef, Dalecarlia, raised in a vicarage in Torsång and Falun. Anti-apartheid activist at high school, 1963. Social democratic student politician and anti-war activist at thUppsala university 1969-1970. Reserve officer in the Swedish army (Royal Artillery Regiment of Norrland´s)  1972-1986. Acedemic positions at Swedish universities since 1973.  Member of the Social Democratic Party and the Swedish (state) church.

Academic education

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

1971–79     Postgraduate studies in Political Science, Uppsala. Doctorate in 1979.

1973-1980. Post-graduate studies in Philosophy and Theory of Science at Gothenburg University, Never fullfilled.


1973-1979   Amanuensis at the Political Science Dep. at Uppsala University.

1979–1986  Post Doc in Political Science at Uppsala University as well as
Gothenburg University.

1986. Appointed Research Fellow (Docent) in Political Science, Gothenburg university.

1986–1998   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.

2015 Visiting porfessor of Political Science, Lund University.

Lecturing and supervising


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

*Study circles on Karl Marx' Capital, foremost in Uppsala, but also in Stockholm and Gothennurg, Connected to The Nordic Summer University (NSU).

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, a few in History and The history of Ideas and learning .

*  Referee commissions, about ten, for the appointment of 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 (together with Jörgen Hermansson, Uppsala, and Bo Lindensjö, Stockholm) 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, the sciences and the social sciences, at the newly constituted (in 1999)  Karlstad University.

2004–2021. 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 the undergraduate course “Political Islam - old and new”, (which really widenied my historical and political horizons).

Research interests and intellectual development, biographically narrated.

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, in 1975, was a critical study on the Swedish “capitalist state” and the role of the social democracy, Staten socialdemokratin och socialismen. Stockholm: Prisma, 1975 (State, Social Democracy and Socialism). In its empirical focus, the book was quite similar of Ralph Milibands earlier The State in Capitalist Society (1969) although informed by Nicos Poulantzas'  structural Marxist state theory. For me it posed an ambitious challenge in the field of (Marxist) general social 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)  on Karl Marx’s Capital, (1978)), 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 at the time.

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 two research projects, the one on The growth of the public sector in the OECD-countries and the second on The Swedish principled, constitutional debate on local government since the 1860s. From the 1990s I will mention two essays (both in Swedish). The first regards 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. This was 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 The Routledge Handbook on Marx’ Capital (forthcoming 2022).

My research during 2015-2019 has 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 together weith his program of the rationalizing mission of Political Science in  liberal democracy. So far, this recent research focus of mine has resulted in three publications. 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, 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.

In 2021 I intiated, together with professors in Political Science, Uppsala university, Li Bennich-Björkman and Sverker Gustavssosn, an anthology with about 10 further scholars regarding the contemporary threats to the idea of the universitey, rational discourse and the sceientific attitude; threats comking both from the outside and the inside of the academia.  Forthcoming in 2022. 


2020-2922 Arbetarrörelsens folkhögskolor i Viskadalen och Göteborg. I am director of a study course in "The Ideas ov the Labour Movement since Marx and up to Today".

Contributes to the academic review journal Respons and the Social Democratic journal Tiden.



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

Articles in journals

Articles, book reviews


Chapters in books