|In 1997 the Norwegian storting decided to put up a so called Power-Commission (maktutredning = MU), and in the spring of 1998 appointed a group of five senior researchers, headed by Øyvind Østerud, for this task. In this introductory discussion Østerud is trying to pin down the central issues for the new commission. His point of departure is the previous MU (1972–1982), which was a milestone in Scandinavia and had a tremendous impact not only on Scandinavian policy making and public debate, but also on Scandinavian social research.
Unlike its predecessor, the new MU will not be organized as a couple of close-kill research programs, but rather act as the prime mover in a loosely coupled network of scholars from different disciplines. Furthermore the new one must be characterized by theoretical and methodological pluralism. The rationale behind this strategy is not least the fact that present-day Norway is a totally different society from what it was in the 1970s. The homogenous, self-assured, Scandinavian social democratic nation-state simply does not exist anymore. Instead, Norway has become a “normal” Northern European country trying to find its place and way in a new world of globalization, European integration, and denationalization.