Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 629–662 | Cite as

The economics of utopia: a co-evolutionary model of ideas, citizenship and socio-political change

  • Isabel Almudi
  • Francisco Fatas-Villafranca
  • Luis R. Izquierdo
  • Jason Potts
Regular Article


We propose a new history-friendly approach to evolutionary socio-economic dynamics based around competition between five ‘utopias’ as central ideas about which to order society: capitalism, socialism, civil liberty, nature, and nationalism. In our model, citizens contribute economic resources to support their preferred utopia, and societal dynamics are explained as a co-evolutionary process between these competing utopias. We apply the model to analyze certain aspects of socio-economic and political change in the US from the 1960s–present. We carry out a history-friendly analysis inspired by such episodes as the outbreak of civil movements in the 1970s, the rise of neo-liberalism in the 1980s, and the channels through which America has engendered an ‘age of fracture’. Further applications for empirical and theoretical research are suggested.


Utopia Citizen Subsystem Political economy Co-evolutionary modeling 

JEL classifications

B52 O57 P16 P51 Z10 



We would like to thank Daniel Chirot, J. Stan Metcalfe, Scott Montgomery and Richard R. Nelson for their very helpful comments on previous versions of this work. We also thank two anonymous referees.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  2. 2.University of BurgosBurgosSpain
  3. 3.RMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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