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Lifestyle (sociology)

The term lifestyle can denote the interests, opinions, behaviours, and behavioural orientations of an individual, group, or culture.

The term was originally used by Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler (1870-1937). The term was introduced in the 1950s as a derivative of that of style in modernist art. The term refers to a combination of determining intangible or tangible factors. Tangible factors relate specifically to demographic variables, i.e. an individual's demographic profile, whereas intangible factors concern the psychological aspects of an individual such as personal values, preferences, and outlooks.

A rural environment has different lifestyles compared to an urban metropolis. Location is important even within an urban scope. The nature of the neighborhood in which a person resides affects the set of lifestyles available to that person due to differences between various neighborhoods' degrees of affluence and proximity to natural and cultural environments. For example, in areas within a close proximity to the sea, a surf culture or lifestyle can often be present.

A lifestyle typically reflects an individual's attitudes, way of life, values, or world view. Therefore, a lifestyle is a means of forging a sense of self and to create cultural symbols that resonate with personal identity. Not all aspects of a lifestyle are voluntary. Surrounding social and technical systems can constrain the lifestyle choices available to the individual and the symbols she/he is able to project to others and the self.

The lines between personal identity and the everyday doings that signal a particular lifestyle become blurred in modern society. For example, "green lifestyle" means holding beliefs and engaging in activities that consume fewer resources and produce less harmful waste (i.e. a smaller ecological footprint), and deriving a sense of self from holding these beliefs and engaging in these activities. Some commentators argue that, in modernity, the cornerstone of lifestyle construction is consumption behavior, which offers the possibility to create and further individualize the self with different products or services that signal different ways of life.

I have come to know hundreds of young people who have found that illness or bingeing on drugs and sugar became the doorway to health. Once they reestablished their own health, we had in common our interest in food. If one can use that overworked word lifestyle, we shared a sugarfree lifestyle. I kept in touch with many of them in campuses and communes, through their travels here and abroad and everywhere. One day you meet them in Boston. The next week you run into them in Southern California.

"Life-styles", the culture industry’s recycling of style in art, represent the transformation of an aesthetic category, which once possessed a moment of negativity [shocking, emancipatory], into a quality of commodity consumption.

In our drafts, we spoke of "mass culture." We replaced that expression with "culture industry" in order to exclude from the outset the interpretation agreeable to its advocates: that it is a matter of something like a culture that arises spontaneously from the masses themselves, the contemporary form of popular art.

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