Mot lärdomens topp: Svenska humanisters och samhällsvetares ursprung, utbildning och yrkesbana under 1900-talets första hälft

  • Datum:
  • Plats: Sal IX, Universitetshuset, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Dalberg, Tobias
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Institutionen för pedagogik, didaktik och utbildningsstudier
  • Kontaktperson: Dalberg, Tobias
  • Disputation


This dissertation employs Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of capital and field alongside Robert K. Merton’s notion of accumulation of advantage to study how different types of assets affect career trajectories in the humanities and social sciences. Assets may be inherited from the parental home, or acquired, such as through academic qualifications and professional experience. Career trajectories includes occupying both incumbencies, such as professorships, and positions based on possessing substantial amounts of assets that are valuable in the field of humanities and social sciences.

A prosopography of Swedish humanists and social scientists entering the academic profession ca 1915–1955 comprises the main empirical data, used in combination with library catalogues, secondary data and documents. The bulk of the data is analysed by quantitative methods, foremost geometric data analysis and sequence analysis.

The institutionalisation of the social sciences in the first half of the 20th century brought about both new incumbencies at the universities and a polarisation of the mode of accumulating assets. In a normally austere academic labour market, new professorships were vital to sustain a university career, especially so in the rising social sciences where there were, unlike many of the humanities disciplines, no established alternative career paths – like schoolteacher – to fall back on. The polarisation of the field separated social scientists more oriented towards political and administrative spheres of society from humanists more endowed with honorary titles, academy memberships and international recognition. However, this evolution did not change the basic division of the academic field, as this was still most clearly marked by the opposition between those with more and those with less academic and scientific power. This fundamental division had less to do with humanities and social science than with seniority in the field. Despite the expansion of the field during this period, the recruitment of academics from more modest social origins did not increase. This ought to be attributed to the fact that the school system efficiently eliminated children from the lower classes at an early stage.

In this sense, the structure of the field, together with the supply of incumbencies, shaped a set of assured possibilities of success, while the field structure itself was shaped by the assets accumulated by its agents.