The lazy language of ‘lifestyles’

Mark Robinson, James A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

6 Citations (Scopus)


The Oxford English dictionary defines lifestyle as “A style or way of living (associated with an individual person, a society, etc.); esp. the characteristic manner in which a person lives (or chooses to live) his or her life.”1 By definition, lifestyle is about personal responsibility; the autonomous, intentional ways in which a person or group exerts free choice to live their lives. Its usage as a term is ubiquitous in society (e.g., celebrity lifestyle, middle-class lifestyle), including in the world of health promotion (e.g., active lifestyle, sedentary lifestyle, risky lifestyle). While the concept of lifestyle has been the subject of academic critique, drawing on Bourdieu and others to emphasise the structural aspects of lifestyles, including social class and power, such context is typically lacking in health research and, in particular, in lay understandings of the term.2 Indeed, the first example of using the term lifestyle in a sentence provided by the Cambridge Dictionary is “He doesn't have a very healthy lifestyle.”3
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-5
Number of pages3
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • lifestyle
  • health promotion
  • public health


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