What is Lifestyle?


Lifestyle is a concept that encompasses a person’s interests, attitudes, behaviours and values. These are all influenced by the individual’s environment. Consequently, different people live differently and have their own unique lifestyle. This includes their daily routine, hobbies and activities and how they eat, spend their leisure time and socialise. It also includes their attitudes towards work, family and relationships. However, the term ‘lifestyle’ can be misleading as it is often used in a marketing context.

The origins of the lifestyle concept can be traced back to the late 1800s, when sociologist Georg Simmel described it as a collective form of shaping everyday life in a society. In contemporary terms, the word ‘lifestyle’ is commonly defined as a set of attitudes and behavioural patterns that determine consumption. This is a reversal of the earlier concept of ‘style’ that was used in fashion design and was associated with a particular dress style.

There are many lifestyle theories, with different approaches and aims. Some focus on identifying and analysing specific social practices, such as the sociological models of Weber and Bourdieu [3,5]. Others aim to provide a more psychological approach to understanding lifestyles by considering how an individual’s personality, values and beliefs influence their lifestyle choices.

Moreover, other models focus on the role of consumers in shaping lifestyles by examining their consumption behaviours and motivations. In this case, the lifestyle is defined as a way of being and living that expresses an individual’s personal identity and sense of self-worth. This approach is particularly useful for understanding how lifestyles change and evolve.

Another model, proposed by Giddens, defines the lifestyle as an expression and synthesis of reflexive projects of self-realisation. This is a response to modernity, which is characterised by pluralisation of lifeworlds and a lack of ascribed identities. As a consequence, people are challenged to construct stable identities through a dynamic process of reflexive self-realisation and the construction of lifestyles. This is a highly complex process, which can be characterised by an individual’s ability to adapt their lifestyle in relation to their changing internal and external environments. This is reflected in the transversal limit of the various lifestyle theories, in that they are unable to define the exact process by which lifestyles form and evolve.