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Published: 2021-11-15

Is ‘Lagom’ part of degrowth?

PROFILE The Scandinavian school of degrowth advocates profound changes in our socio-economic structures. Sufficiency is one of the central concepts in degrowth. Robert O. Nilsson tells us more about a project that explores ‘lagom’ as a culturally adapted manifestation of sufficiency.

Text: Kristina Lindblom
Image: Umeå universitet

Robert O. Nilsson is a doctoral student at the Department of Geography. He was born and raised in Ekerö, an island outside Stockholm, and moved to Umeå to study for a bachelor's degree in human geography. This led to a master's degree in Hospitality Management in Norway / Denmark, and then he returned to Umeå University for his doctoral education.


Tell us - what is your doctoral thesis about?

- My doctoral project is about how tourism entrepreneurs in northern Sweden market their products by using 'Arctic' concepts. What we want to understand in the project is how this type of ‘Arctic’ profiling by the entrepreneurs affects the image of our northern regions and what long-term effects this has on society.


You are presenting at the upcoming Fika Pitch held by the UTRI Young Researcher Network, there you will talk about something else?

- Yes, I will talk about a project that is outside my dissertation. It is a project that my colleague and lead author Iana Nesterova has developed on the concept of degrowth. In this particular project, I am involved in helping Iana explore how the concept of ‘lagom’ in a Swedish context can be seen from a degrowth perspective.

Facts about Degrowth

Under the umbrella term "degrowth" several things are united: degrowth is at once a research paradigm, a movement, a political project.

Degrowth challenges the ideology of economic growth and seeks deep transformations.

These deep transformations concern different levels of society, from embodied personalities to socio-economic systems and our society's interactions with nature.

While the term degrowth might suggest decline and indeed encompasses deviation from materialistic pursuits, at the heart of degrowth is growth in solidarity, social justice and care.


How come you got involved in the young research network within UTRI?

- A sustainable world is something we all want to achieve. Questions remain, however, what is sustainability? And how can this be achieved? Meeting other researchers from other disciplines who have different perspectives, knowledge and methods to investigate this is essential. UTRI is thus a good platform for this type of collaboration.


What does sustainable change mean for you?

Adaptable – places, natural resources, cultures and social structures, economies, laws, etc. differ from one place to another around the world. We must therefore start from the unique conditions of places and people in order to achieve global sustainability.


Robert is also a member of the Arctic Centre (ARCUM) board and encourage researchers working with issues concerning the artistic environments to affiliate themselves with ARCUM, and that everyone is welcome to sign up for open seminars that often deal questions regarding sustainability issues.

Contact information

Robert O. Nilsson
Doctoral student