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Max Koch. Foto: Johan Persson.

Max Koch


Max Koch. Foto: Johan Persson.

Beyond the growth imperative and neoliberal doxa: Expanding alternative societal spaces through deliberative citizen forums on needs satisfaction.


  • Max Koch
  • Jayeon Lindellee
  • Johanna Alkan Olsson

Summary, in English

Are there indications for the neoliberal hegemony in economy and society to come to an end? Are people already imagining a future within environmental limits and beyond the growth imperative? Theoretically, building upon Marx and Bourdieu, we reconstruct the ideological impact that capitalism, in general, and neoliberalism, in particular, has on the ways we think, feel and make sense of our environmental and social context. Empirically, we analyse qualitative data from eleven deliberative citizen forums on needs satisfaction that we carried out in 2020 in Sweden. Theoretical and empirical results point to a weakening of capitalist and, particularly, neoliberal ideology. In the forums, this became obvious in the discussions of critical issues such as space use, labour market-generated inequalities, societal norms regarding upward mobility and individual ideas about career and happiness. There is furthermore significant intersection between what researchers recommend in terms of “eco-social” policy measures to initiate transformational change and what citizens view as necessary in this respect. Since deliberative citizen forums can provide opportunities of critical reflection and imagining alternative ways of satisfying fundamental human needs in sustainable ways, they can play a valuable role in the more general effort of igniting “counterfire” (Bourdieu) to neoliberalism and developing postgrowth economies and societies.


  • School of Social Work
  • Centre for Economic Demography
  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Publishing year







Real-world Economics Review



Document type

Journal article


P A E News


  • Social Work


  • capitalism
  • neoliberalism
  • degrowth
  • alternative societal spaces
  • deliberative citizen forums
  • Sweden




  • Sustainable Welfare for a New Generation of Social Policy
  • Postgrowth Welfare Systems


  • ISSN: 1755-9472