Stockholm university

Göran AhrneProfessor Emeritus of Sociology

About me

Göran Ahrne was Professor of Sociology and chair at the department from 1994 to 2009 and head of the department between 1996 and 2002. He is also active at the Stockholm center for organization research (Score). For many years he has been engaged in research on changes in the class structure in Sweden from a comparative perspective. Göran Ahrne has also written and edited several textbooks in Sociology and organization theory. His main current research interest concerns the integration of sociological theory with organization theory by investigating how different types of social relationships are established and maintained. Parts of this research is reported on in the book Organization outside organizations. The abundance of partial organization in social life published at Cambridge University Press 2019. The book has been edited by Ahrne together with Nils Brunsson.


Research keywords

Social relationships, bonded actions, social and organizational change, globalization, meta- organizations, partial organization, love and friendship, kinship


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • The Organization of Global Politics

    Adrienne Sörbom, Göran Ahrne. SAGE Open


    Globalization occurs in a variety of social spheres, and different types of organizations have varying possibilities for becoming global actors. The aim of this paper is to explain why some non-governmental political actors have difficulty acting outside the framework of the nation state whereas others are more succesful. Drawing on the cases of the Socialist International, four European trade unions and Amnesty International, the paper explores organizational preconditions for becoming global political actors. The analysis is based on both contemporary and historical empirical sources, showing that in the cases of the European unions and the Socialist International the prime organizational form chosen for non-national cooperation is the international meta-organization. This form may render international recognition, but is rooted in national organizations making it less suitable for global politics. The best explanation for this un-aptness is strong internal differences, caused by the national embeddedness of political parties and trade unions. The paper points to four factors explaining this embeddedness and the following difficulties: members’ interests, a broad agenda, and the necessity of engaging in solutions, leading to a lack of leadership. Comparing the results with the organizational form of Amnesty International the paper shows that it is the opposite to the meta-organizations of parties and unions. Amnesty is not fighting for the immediate interests of its members; it has a narrow agenda; it does not engage in solutions; and as a result it has strong leadership and can more easily act as a united global actor.

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  • On the fruitfulness of the concept of partial organization

    2017. Göran Ahrne, Nils Brunsson, David Seidl. European Management Journal 35 (3), 297-299


    This short paper responds to Apelt et al.'s (2017) comments on Ahrne et al.'s (2016) proposal of extending the concept of organization to any decided social orders and thereby putting organization studies at the centre of the social sciences. We highlight some misunderstandings about the aims of this proposal and discuss Apelt et al.'s own proposal of re-focusing organization studies on formal organizations based on Niklas Luhmann's systems theory.

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Show all publications by Göran Ahrne at Stockholm University