Lifestyle is the habitual manner of living established by a society, culture, community, or single person. It is the manner of living that people follow whether it is a customary way of living or a more modern lifestyle. The term lifestyle can be adapted from the word ‘lisage’. It is used to describe the customs, practices, and modes of social organization and individual expression that people follow around the world.
This includes patterns of individual behavior, interaction, activity, work, and leisure that characterize how an individual spends their personal time. Some of these aspects can be categorized as being permanent and some as situational. A lifestyle may be considered permanent when there are clear, overriding social norms that are practiced by all members of the community. For instance, there are certain behaviors associated with the way people eat (e.g., their eating habit), their interaction with other people (e.g., their sitting, talking or moving about), their mode of transportation (e.g., their mode of travel and the places they go), their occupations (e.g., occupation of different individuals), their mode of crafts (e.g., the craft of making pottery, making clothes or hunting and fishing). Lifestyle in this sense can be considered as a set of tangible factors or elements that cannot be changed, that determine the essence of the lifestyle of members of a community.
Lifestyle of one person can differ significantly from that of another even within a community that practices similar living practices. Even within a single community or metropolis, the ways in which people live are highly individualized. This means that even within the same urban metropolis or rural setting, people have varying ways of living their lives. These differences are most often rooted in attitudes and values towards life that have been shaped by their social context. The factors that shape a lifestyle are personal and not political or economic in nature.
Adorno, in his later years, explored the unique role of the lifestyle in shaping an individual’s identity and the nature of that identity. His thinking is the source of much confusion about what exactly is the nature of the self and how it varies across cultures and societies. Adorno’s view is that the self is nothing more than a “swell.” The self is fashioned by the mass culture into various identities and conceptions. Those who do not conform to the mass culture’s conception of the self are socially stigmatized and, in some cases, even killed. Adorno also believed that the self can be understood as a formation that exists apart from the culture industry.
Today’s definition of a typical “American” lifestyle is significantly different than that of Adorno. While there has been some movement towards creating a distinction between “real Americans” and “fake Americans,” many still live lifestyles closer to that of the former than the latter. Although real Americans have broad social definitions of what a typical lifestyle is, they also share some commonalities in their life-styles and in the mass culture industries that created them. Even within a single group, the definition of that lifestyle can vary significantly.
The difference between the urban metropolis and the rural environment may be seen in the way people engage with work, leisure, and social routines. In the former, people are heavily invested in education, have a high level of technical skill and a liberalization of social expectations. People are highly connected to work and even within cities they have considerable differences in their lifestyle choice. The urban metropolis demands certain behaviors of its inhabitants such as: balancing multiple identities and desires against the constraints of time and space, resistance to change, and an overall openness to life and change. The lifestyle of the rural environment is one of deep physical and emotional connectedness to the land and is characterized by the existence of many small-scale individuals and family units living independently in close-knit communities, supported by strong community institutions.
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