Chapter 5

Gunnar Myrdal: Interdisciplinary Research, Policy Science, and Racism
Thomas Weaver

The Unity of the Social Sciences
Gunnar Myrdal

Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal (1898–1987) is best known for his ground-breaking study of racism in the U.S., An American Dilemma (1949). Recipient of the 1974 Nobel Prize in Economics, he made major contributions to the theory of economic development and held numerous political as well as academic appointments. In his 1975 Malinowski Award address, Myrdal focused on the need to draw on various social sciences in order to understand problems such as racism and underdevelopment. He urged anthropologists, with their holistic knowledge of society and first-hand familiarity with social problems in underdeveloped regions, to become more involved in economic planning and policy making.