Stein Rokkan: A Man of Several Worlds

Stein Rokkan: A Man of Several Worlds

Arild Stubhaug

Original title: Stein Rokkan. Fra sentrum til periferi
Publisher: Vigmostad & Bjørke, 2019
Genre: Monography
Pages: 573 pages

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This biography is an intimate portrait of Stein Rokkan – as both scientist and man.

Stein Rokkan (1921–1979) introduced the concepts of ‘centre and periphery’ and ‘counterculture’ and also formulated the idea that ‘votes count but resources decide’ in elections. Rokkan was a founder of both Norwegian and international social science, who became a world leader in the discipline. This biography offers an intimate portrait of the scientist and the man. Born in Lofoten and raised in Narvik, he rapidly became a star talent at Oslo University. He was courted by the great American universities – Harvard, Yale, and Stanford – and universities in Manchester, London, and Paris, but opted to stay in Bergen, accepting only sporadic visiting professorships and assuming a series of central honorary posts.

Throughout the political science world, he was viewed as a powerhouse in the discipline, especially in the relatively new research field of comparative politics. When he died in 1979 aged only 58, his contribution was praised on all sides; he had become a role model, the epitome of the international scholar. Who was he?

The sensitive portrait of Rokkan sheds fresh light on Norway’s intellectual history but also serves as a reading key for understanding the political conflicts of recent years – the tensions in the wake of the US presidential election, Brexit and why the EU is creaking at the foundations. This biography is nothing short of an event.


A solid book about a researcher who became an international superstar. An impartial, thorough and well written book about Stein Rokkan, the great political scientist who died far too soon.

Bergens Tidende

A successful blend of research communication, political science history, and traditional biography.

Bergens Tidende

What Stubhaug achieves in his new book is to show where Rokkan’s ideas came from and what was relevant in his writings. Anyone who is interested in social science will enjoy reading about – and by reading, gaining a better understanding of – one of the most important agenda-setters in Norwegian social sciences.


Arild Stubhaug

Arild stubhaug foto aschehoug

Arild Stubhaug is a writer of fiction and biography, and a recipient of a government grant, with an honorary doctorate from Oslo University. He has written several biographies, including Niels Henrik Abel and his Times: Called Too Soon by Flames Afar (winner of Norway’s prestigious Brage Prize) and Jacob Aall in his Time. He has won numerous awards including the Norwegian Language Council Prize, the Norwegian Academy Prize and the Dobloug Prize awarded by the Swedish Academy.

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