The New Urban Challenge? Models of Sustainable Welfare in Swedish Metropolitan Cities

Project: Research

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Social Sciences


  • Sustainable welfare, Urban governance


High expectations are placed on cities as sites for handling complex social, economic and ecological societal challenges. Despite contemporary urbanization and decentralization trends limited scholarly attention has been paid to how cities manage to go beyond and integrate the growth/employment paradigm and the ecological sustainability paradigm towards developing sustainable and socially inclusive societies, here conceptualized as models of urban sustainable welfare.

The overall aim of this project is to analyze models of urban sustainable welfare and the conflicts and synergies such models give rise to. We will explore in depth the interrelations between urban governance for social inclusion and ecological sustainability respectively. To what extent do we find emerging eco-social policies in Swedish metropolitan cities? Which strategies do sustainable welfare policies and governance arrangements give rise to among urban actors? Which ideas, beliefs and visions about models of urban sustainable welfare are expressed by citizens? What factors hamper and enable the emergence of models of urban sustainable welfare, e.g. structural factors, cultural factors, local actor constellations and orientations? The research questions will be answered on the basis of comparative case studies of three metropolitan cities in Sweden (Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö), which in international comparisons stand out for their advanced welfare arrangements and progressive environmental policies.

Theories on urban governance, welfare policy and sustainability governance as well as critical planning theory form the basis for developing an analytical framework for conceptualizing sustainable welfare for urban studies. The empirical investigations will center around three integrated thematic studies: I) urban eco-social policies and governance arrangements; II) interests, positions and strategies expressed by actors in relation to models of urban sustainable welfare, and III) citizen visions of urban sustainable welfare. The project includes a variety of data sources and methods (incl. surveys, interviews, observations, media and discourse analysis) and involves actors at the urban level such as politicians, civil servants, social partners, civil society organizations and citizens. The research will be conducted by a team of scholars from social science and system engineering at Lund University and in close cooperation with local stakeholder committees in the studied cities.

Funded by: The Swedish Research Council (Formas)
Short title Den nya urbana utmaningen?
Effective start/end date2017/01/012022/01/01