Towards an eco-welfare state : Enabling factors for transformative eco-social initiatives

Tuuli Hirvilammi*, Juha Peltomaa, Matti Pihlajamaa, Sanna Tiilikainen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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In eco-welfare states, welfare provision must operate within planetary boundaries, entailing societal transformations and significant emission reductions. This article contributes to the research on sustainable welfare and eco-social policies by examining transformative and integrative eco-social initiatives that aim to reduce environmental impacts while also ensuring that public actors have the capacities to reach legally binding social outcomes and enhance social inclusion. Theoretically, we combine welfare state transformation research with the concepts of social-ecological systems, provisioning systems and transformative capacity. Our empirical cases in Finland include public actors promoting sustainable public procurement, a network of carbon-neutral municipalities, sustainable lifestyles accelerators at the household level, and carbon footprint calculators as a potential free-to-use technique that supports widespread carbon reductions. We apply a qualitative research design to investigate what kinds of factors are crucial in enhancing the transformative capacity of provisioning systems and how various factors in practice enable the eco-social initiatives to support the transformation towards an eco-welfare state. Our findings identify key enabling factors for transformative capacity: social networks, collaboration and participation; knowledge, learning and monitoring; shared policy frameworks and visions; and financial resources. These factors are interrelated and can be brought to bear in no particular sequence. The results offer valuable insights into how welfare state characteristics with democratically governed public actors may facilitate transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-463
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Security
Issue number4
Early online date17 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Eco-social
  • eco-welfare
  • provisioning system
  • social policy
  • sustainable welfare
  • transformative capacity


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