The role of work and social protection systems in socialecological transformations: Insights from deliberative citizen forums in Sweden

To avoid catastrophic consequences of impending ecological crises our socio-economic systems need to be transformed in rapid and radical manners. Focusing on working life and Sweden as an example for countries of the Global North with a social-democratic welfare tradition, it ask how social protection systems may be reorganised according to the concept of ‘sustainable welfare’, the satisfaction of basic human needs across space and over time. It combines a literature review with an analysis of qualitative data from deliberative citizen forums following Max-Neef’s Human Scale Development methodology. After taking stock of the existing literature that highlights the unsustainable character of current work regimes, it presents our application of the methodology used in the citizen forums as well as the data. Our participants generally highlighted the importance of broadening the concept of work beyond ‘employment’ when reflecting on the role of work in addressing and satisfying multiple human needs within planetary limits. The introduction of a universal basic income, a participation income, an expansion of universal basic services, working time reduction and a sabbatical year conditioned on civic participation/education were among the eco-social reform ideas that forum participants highlighted to liberate work from its current unsustainable and capitalist contexts and turn it from a negative into a positive need satisfie.