Lifestyle refers to an internalized way of life characterized by attitudes, beliefs, and values. It encompasses patterns of behavior such as consumption and work activities while also including leisure pursuits and relationships.
When people hear “lifestyle”, many images come to mind: social media influencers staging Santorini sunset shots, colorful dinner plates photographed from above and magazines profiling luxurious homes. Yet it encompasses much more.
It’s a way of life
Lifestyle is an abstract term with multiple interpretations. Some see it as the sum total of one’s choices (a la Weber), while others see it as an internal pattern of habits relating to music, dress, food and language – choices which reflect who a person is as an individual.
Lifestyle can also refer to external influences on an individual’s quality of life, including health and fitness. Lifestyle includes one’s choice of work, family and community activities as well as hobbies or interests such as sports, art, leisure activities. Cultural norms may impact these decisions from country to country. According to experts in health matters, leading a healthy lifestyle is central to good health – it reduces risks for serious illnesses while increasing life expectancies; additionally it’s an integral component of mental wellbeing.
It’s a way of thinking
Lifestyle conjures images of social media influencers posing in front of Santorini sunsets, colorful dinner plates photographed from above, and magazines profiling homes of rich and famous individuals. Yet lifestyle is much more than conspicuous consumption – it also underpins key sociopolitical discussions relating to global warming.
Historical approaches to lifestyle analysis as modes of thought date back to Alfred Adler and his theory that an individual’s system of beliefs and principles he or she develops during childhood forms their personality over time.
Georg Simmel later conducted a formal analysis of lifestyles as the result of identity processes such as identification, differentiation and recognition. More recently, Pierre Bourdieu revived this approach within a framework which examines the interaction between lifestyles and social structures – placing great emphasis on action as both vertical and horizontal components – through an in-depth framework analysis of interplay.
It’s a way of living
Lifestyle is the result of one’s personality, beliefs and interests reflected through hobbies, social activities, food selection and exercise routine. Additionally, your surroundings play a large part in shaping it; for instance, coastal living has distinct characteristics from rural.
“Lifestyle” is often used in a loose and abstract sense by writers. Sociologists, for instance, interpret it as the method by which individuals overcome or compensate for feelings of inadequacy; others, like Alfred Adler, take a more psychological view by seeing lifestyle as the system of values and principles an individual develops from early childhood onward.
Lifestyle can also refer to an individual’s set of habits, including housing or clothing choices. A person’s daily life choices may be affected by factors like culture, religion and work-life balance; but it can also reveal an individual’s social standing if they strive to keep up with others – for instance by trying to keep up with “The Jones’s”.
It’s a way of being
As soon as one hears “lifestyle”, images come flooding back of social media influencers staging lifestyle photos against Santorini sunset, colorful dinner plates shot from above, and magazines dedicated to profiling glamorous homes. But while lifestyle may appear trivial, its concept lies at the core of major sociopolitical conversations.
Lifestyle refers to an individual’s habits and beliefs; it may also encompass physical activities, recreational pursuits, eating patterns and any other factors which have an effect on quality of life. Some lifestyles are determined by culture, religion or personal values while for others the lifestyle depends on location, level of wealth or proximity to cultural and natural environments.
Sociologists such as Giddens have moved away from individual psychology (Adler) towards lifestyle choices that define and shape an individual’s identity and how others view them. Giddens coined this approach the profiles-and-trends approach for this reason – employing both diachronic and synchronic analyses of attitudes, interests and opinions across time in various social contexts.