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Lifestyle was originally coined by Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler in 1929. The current broader sense of the word dates from 1961.
In sociology, a lifestyle is the way a person lives. A lifestyle is a characteristic bundle of behaviors that makes sense to both others and oneself in a given time and place, including social relations, consumption, entertainment, and dress. The behaviors and practices within lifestyles are a mixture of habits, conventional ways of doing things, and reasoned actions. A lifestyle typically also reflects an individual's attitudes, values or worldview. 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 entirely voluntaristic. 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 carbon 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.
The term lifestyle in politics can often be used in conveying the idea that society be accepting of a variety of different ways of life—from the perspective that differences among ways of living are superficial, rather than existential. Lifestyle is also sometimes used pejoratively, to mark out some ways of living as elective or voluntary as opposed to others that are considered mainstream, unremarkable, or normative.
Within anarchism, lifestylism is the view that an anarchist society can be formed by changing one's own personal activities rather than by engaging in class struggle.
Advertising and marketing
In business, "lifestyles" provide a means by which advertisers and marketers endeavor to target and match consumer aspirations with products, or to create aspirations relevant to new products. Therefore marketers take the patterns of belief and action characteristic of lifestyles and direct them toward expenditure and consumption. These patterns reflect the demographic factors (the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic levels and so on) that define a group. As a construct that directs people to interact with their worlds as consumers, lifestyles are subject to change by the demands of marketing and technological innovation.
"The lifestyle" is a term commonly used in BDSM and swinging.
^ Online Etymology Dictionary
^ Spaargaren, G., and B. VanVliet. 2000. ‘Lifestyles, Consumption and the Environment: The Ecological Modernisation of Domestic Consumption.’ Environmental Politics. 9(1): 50-75.
^ Giddens, A. 1991. Modernity and self-identity: self and society in the late modern age. Cambridge: Polity Press.
^ Ropke, I. 1999. ‘The Dynamics of Willingness to Consume. Ecological Economics. 28: 399-420.
Stebbins, Robert A. (2009) Personal decisions in the public square Beyond problem solving into a positive sociology. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.