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CSS Colloquium: Stefan Bargheer, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies and University of California (UCLA)

Applied Social Research and Paradigm Shifts: The Remaking of the Social Sciences in the Image of War, 1941-1951

Info about event


Wednesday 9 March 2022,  at 14:15 - 15:45


Aud. D4 (1531–219)


World War II was a turning point in the development of the social sciences in the United States. I use archival sources on applied social research conducted during the war and the emerging Cold War era to trace how it transformed the boundaries between scientific disciplines and the research topics addressed within these disciplines. During the war, scientists of all stripes conducted research for government agencies and programs funded by the military. While natural scientists predominantly studied how to produce and disseminate weapons, social scientists studied people’s willingness to apply them, that is, they studied their fighting spirit, known as morale. Research on morale was interdisciplinary, with anthropology, sociology, and psychology as the core disciplines. The topic was not discarded with the end of the war, but continued under different names. What was called morale during the war was now addressed as cultural values in anthropology, social norms in sociology, and personal attitudes in psychology. I show how the theoretical paradigms that dominated the social sciences in the 1950s and 1960s had their roots in the frequently neglected episode of applied social research conducted during the war.

Coffee, tea, cakes and fruit will be served before the colloquium at 2 pm.