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September 1977

Lifestyle Interdependence, Context and Design

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Paper presented to the European Workshop on Lifestyles and Social Change (Arc-et-Senans, France, September 1977) organized by the Association Internationale Futuribles


Introduction

The number and variety of problems recognized in society, and the extent of their interaction has already been widely reported (1). The complexity of the situation in terns of its representation for comprehension and the formulation of adequately responsive action is also the subject of continuing comment (2), as is the ineffectiveness of many seemingly useful forms of action (3) and the widespread alienation from institutions on the part of those whose Interests they are supposed to serve. These conditions are accompanied by an inability to evolve meeting processes within which viable action projects can emerge end acquire support (2,4), or to develop organizational networks adequate to the demands placed upon them (2).

In this environment there appears to be a tendency for Individuals to redefine their concerns in terms of their contribution to a viable lifestyle. The purpose of this paper is to explore briefly the nature of the Interdependence between lifestyles and the characteristics of the context within which a particular lifestyle is viable. It is hoped that this will suggest possibilities for using more sensitive social indicators and for a new approach to what might be called "lifestyle design".

Lifestyles

Although the term "lifestyle" is increasingly useful in current discourse, its meaning cannot apparently be adequately captured by any particular verbal definition. [This is perhaps not surprising since debate on the meaning, if any, of the words of which it is composed has been in progress for some time.)

The intention here is to explore the usefulness of linking the notion of an individual': lifestyle to that of the individual's set of Interdependent roles. The advantage is that a role can, with more or less consistency, be unambiguously identified as a coherent pattern of behaviour to which a widely recognized label may well be conventionally attached. A complex role may of course be composed of sub-roles, and such analysis can (in theory) decompose any role into discrete well-defined behavioural units.

The previous paragraph in fact brings out a series of levels:

The use of "pattern" and "set" Imply Incorrectly a static concept of role end lifestyle. The dynamism of lifestyle emerges more clearly it is considered to be the result of applying en art resembling that of choreography or dramatisation to a set of roles. The preoccupations and constraints of these disciplines could certainly provide clues to fruitful avenues for further exploration.

A personally satisfactory lifestyle is then one in which the point of focus moves:

Clearly this brings in qualitative factors normally assessed only in aesthetic terms. They only lend themselves to quantitative analysis where there is consensus on the ascesthetic value of certain proportions and harmonies, or on measures of simplicity, elegance and balance (5). These properties emerge more clearly from a structural (geometrical) analysis than from a convintional quantitative (numerical) analysis.

Lifestyle analysis

Their have been anumberofdescriptions of lifestyles but they are usually restricted to particular focal questions, whether it be alternative lifestyles in communes, or various formulas for relationships between thesexes. Whilst these questions may be important, their importance may emerge more clearly if the enquiry is based on a wider variety of lifestyles, relevant to a wider range of people (if only in their own eyes).

A particular form of independent lifestyle may he envisaged as a limit condition, namelywhen that lifestyle gives rise to no need to interact with any other lifestyle. Normally, however, the roles making up the lifestyle will only balance each other to some degree and the person will feel obliged to interact with others to complement his particular role complex. The viability of that lifestyle is then determined by the possibility of such Interaction with an appropriate mix of other lifestyles. The more balanced and complementary the roles integrated into a lifestyle, the less the need for interaction with other lifestyles. (It would appear that a limit condition of this type may be reached in the degenerate case of total lifestyle impoverishment, namely a form of lifestyle "monoculture", as well as in the case of lifestyle enrich- ment to the point at which all role experiences are effectively represented in the lifestyle -- presumably illustrated by a continuous "peek, experience" as recorded in various religious traditions)

The nature of the interaction between lifestyles (or between roles within a lifestyle) is suggested by Table 1. This is a representation of information from biology concerning the possible relationships between two species or populations. This range of interactions, and the extended terminology, was developed by E. F. Haskell who also attempted to apply it to societies (6).

Clearly any imbalance resulting from such dynamic relationships will demand the presence of compensating interactions with further lifestyles -- thus necessitating a whole web of lifestyles (or roles within a lifestyle) as is characteristic of any society where there is division of labour. In effect each lifestyle "picks up the pieces' left ty others. The positive and negative effects generated by any lifestyle must be absorbed ty some other lifestyle (or role).

Whilst this is perhaps more satisfactorily and richly illustrated by the interaction between many species through food webs in an ecosystem, e clearer understanding merges from consideration of the financial and energy interactions between all the sectors of en economy as portrayed for input-output analysis. From this point of view. e role (or a lifestyle) may be perceived as having the possibility of interaction with any other extant role (or lifestyle).

At the lifestyle level, there does not yet appear to be any adequate descriptive list of lifestyles. It is not even certain that there is an awareness of the dimensions necessary to distinguish between them in their various forms -- since this raises equations of qualitative discrimination. The situation is not much better with regard to roles. The utility of the question of how many types of role there are in society has not yet been established, let alone information on the extent to which there is interaction between them.

There ere of course standard classifications of occupations (7), and of special interest is that produced by the U.S. Department of Labour (8). It uses a coding system which attempts to distinguish occupations in terms of:

As shown in Table 2, this system provides some degree of codification of occupational roles. It is however based "onthe premise that every job requires a worker to function in relation to Data, People, and Things, in varying degrees". The three codes identify "the highestappropriate function in each hierarchy to which the job requires the worker to have a significant relationship". Taken together they indicate the total level of complexity at which he must perform."

Table 1: Range of relationships between two entities or populations
Benefit to role or lifestyle . Benefit to role or lifestyle . . .

0

.

+

Beneficial to Y

(X unaffected)

Allotropy

+

<

+

Mutually beneficial

(more for Y)

Symbiosis

+

=

+

Mutually beneficial

(equally)

Symbiosis

+

>

+

Mutually beneficial

(more for X)

Symbiosis

+

0

Beneficial to
X

(Y unaffected)

Commensalism

+

>

-

Beneficial to X

(X gains more than Y loses)

Parasitism

+

=

-

Beneficial to X

(X gains what Y loses)

Parasitism

+

<

-

Beneficial to X

( X gains less then Y loses)

Parasitism

0

.

-

Unbeneficial to
Y

(X unaffected)

Allolimy

-

<

-

Mutually unbeneficial

(X loses less than Y)

Synnecrosis

-

=

+

Mutually unbeneficial

(X loses what Y loses)

Synnecrosis

-

>

-

Mutually unbeneficial

(X loses more than Y)

Synnecrosis

- . 0 Unbeneficial to
X
(Y unaffected) Amensalism

-

>

+

Unbeneficial to
X

(X loses more than Y gains)

Predation

-

=

+

Unbeneficial to
X

(X loses what Y gains)

Predation

-

<

+

Unbeneficial to
X

(X loses less than Y gains)

Predation


Table 2: Relationship of a job to data, people and things
data people things

0 Synthesizing

0Mentoring 0 Setting-up
1 Coordinating 1 Negotiating 1 Precision working
2Analyzing 2 Instructing 2 Operating-Controlling
3 Compiling 3 Supervising 3 Driving-Operating
4 Computing 4 Diverting 4 Manipulating
5 Copying 5 Persuading 5 Tending

6 Comparing

6 Speaking-Signalling 6 Feeding-Offhearing
  7 Serving 7 Handling

It is possible to envisage an analysis of occupational roles whereby the existence of interaction of each with any others would be recorded in a matrix (analogous to an input-ouput chart and bearing some relationship to one in so far as industrial sectors are concerned). An effort could be made to estimate the extent of this interaction (e.g. on a 1-5 scale). This could be analyzed by a range of existing techniques (e.g. those used in sociometry end network analysis)

Now any lifestyle incorporating one or more of these occupational roles Immediately defines its dependence on Interaction with the other roles to which it is linked in the matrix -- in order, presumably, for each incorporated role to be fully effective. However this does not go far enough. It does not bring out which role experiences an Individual would require to counterbalance those Incorporated into his lifestyle. Namely it does not bring out how his lifestyle could be enriched. It only shows interactions necessary for the viability of those roles Incorporated into his lifestyle.

The above approach is of course limited to occupational roles, and even though over 20,000 are described in the above study (8) it is clear that somehow other kinds of role must be linked into any suchinvestigation for it to be significant. Clearly not all roles and forms of expression are concretized in an occupational role as conventionally understood. Other roles to be considered Include:

No recognition is given to the importance for an individual of being able to adopt such roles or the consequences of eroding such lifestyle componenets through simplistic social policies. The question might even be asked as to what kinds of role were essential for a meaningful lifestyle -- somewhat as we are now able to identify precisely what vitamines are essential for fullphysical health.

Lifestyle enrichment

It is as yet unclear what meaning can be attached to the qualitative improvement of a lifestyle (9). One approach is to considerin howmany modes the individual can function at each "level of enrichment". Thus for example:

Level 1 Existence/Subsistence
Level 2 Work1 Rest1
Level 3 Work2 Leisure2 Rest2
Level 4  

Without getting trapped into the further elaboration of any such scheme, it does illustrate how there might be en emergence of a new mode at each new level. It is interesting that in the consumer society, the modes would appear to be: work, rest. sex, food, commute, entertainment (level 6 ?). As presented, however, this is very crudesince at the lower levels there is a blurring together of modes which only become clearly differentiated at higher levels. At each new level the range and distinctivenessof work modes, for example, become more striking to the point at which the individual personally invents and develops a now occupational role as a form of creative self-expression.

Clearly this approach bears some relationship to Maslow's need hierarchy. One disadvantage of any such hierarchy is the limited number and abstract nature of the categories. If there are over 20,000 occupational roles in a developed country, there must be some way of embodying such diversity into a representation of the opportunities for lifestyle enrichment, in order to be able to relate it to social change processes.

The whole question of the relationship of role complexification to lifestyle enrichment is well illustratedin biological terms by the work of R Margalef (10). He has shown that a highly diversified ecosystem has the capacity for carrying a high amount of organization and Information and requires little energy to maintain it, whereas, conversely, the lower the maturity of the system, the less the energy required to disrupt it. The maturity of an ecosystem isconceivedas being closely related in one respect to its diversity or complexity, and in another to the Information that can be maintained with a definite expenditure of potential energy. Anything that keeps such a system in a state of oscillation, retains it in a state of low maturity.

Consider a two-component role complex (whether or not the componenets are themselves complex multi-componenet systems). This may easily be led into a condition of oscillation, whereas this would be more difficult with four or eight components. A multi-role lifestyle is thus not only enriching, it has desirable self-stabilizing properties as well as energy conserving in a sense that remains to be clarified.

Despite awareness of such flatters, and whether dealing with the natural environment or an individual's lifestyle, there is still lack of knowledge of how to "mature". The species (or roles) which should be integrated into the system are not known, nor is the order and manner of integration. In part this is due to a lack of interest,in both cases,in naturer systems -- whether because monoculture is more productive in agriculture or because specifically trained individuals perform better in the economy.

In the absence of clearer understanding of these matters, it can only be concluded that some social policies must impoverish rather than enrichen lifestyles -- possibly despite the good intentions of their originators. However, relevant social indicators remain to be established to bring out this "psycho-social impoverishment".

Lifestyles and personality types

There is a large literature on personality types. Studies have been node of the aptitude of particular types for particular occupational roles. It is the basis of personnel selection. Given the purpose of such studies, it is not clear whether they help to define and design a lifestyle appropriate for the person, rather than to locate a person appropriate for a job vacancy. Few such studies focus on the problem of matching several personality types to create an enriching lifestyle for each of then as a consequence of their interaction. Work in this area has been limited to developing balanced crews for specialized airspace missions -- which obviously does not cover a wide range of personality types or lifestyle requirements.

It is easy to get trapped into a particular personality typology dealing with N types (where N may be 4, 8, 12. etc depending on the sensitivity of the author). Of spcial interest, as an illustration of the variety which must be Incorporated into appropriate lifestyles,is the system of seven "axes of bias" of W T Jones (11). He suggests that each individual is located somewhere along each of these exes in terms of pre-logical preference for the kinds of experience and explanation that are felt to be satisfactory.

These axes of bias are listed in Table 3. If they are interpreted as axes of lifestyle preferences, this Table provides a useful basis for further exploration.

As such it offers at least some assurance that a fairly complete range of lifestyles can be represented by it.

Table 3: Axes of lifestyle preference
1. Order/Disorder axis which consists of the range of attitudes lying between a strong preference for fluidity, muddle and chaos and a strong preference for system, clarity. and conceptual analysis
2. Static/Dynamic axis in which, at one pole, there is preference for the changeless and eternal and at the other pole, a preference for movement end for explanation in genetic terms
3. Continuity/Discreteness axis

which consists of the range of attitudes between a preference for wholeness and completeness and a preference for diversity

4. Inner/Outer axis which consists of the range of attitudes Between a demand to "get inside" the objects of one's experience and a tendency to be satisfied with an external view of them
5. Sharp-focus/Soft-focus axis in which the contrast is between a preference for clear and distinct experience and a preference for threshold experiences
6. This-world/Other-world axis in which readiness to believe that the spatio-temporal world is self-explanat- ory iscontrasted with a refusal to believe it is self-explanatory (and a contentment with the here-and-now is opposed to a preference for the other-in-time and the other-in-space)
7. Spontaneity/Process axis in which at one extreme there is a strong preference for chance and novelty andat the other extreme, an equally strong disposition to believe in duly established procedure

Lifestyle context

It is useful to recall the as yet poorly established relationship between a lifestyle and the following features of the socio-cultural system which support or legitimate it:

Of special importance is the tendency for an increase in Integration or fragmentation in any one of these to provoke a corresponding integration or fragmentation in the others and consequently in their ability to sustain any lifestyle associated with them. Equally a relativelyimpoverished lifestyle would tend to limit recognition of the complexity of the above networks and would therefore lead to simplistic social responses.

Lifestyle design

Greater awareness of the range of lifestyles and lifestyle components and the choice amongst themwhich the individual has made, should enable him to take steps to "redesign" Ms lifestyle in order to enrichen it. This raises interesting questions of how to portray lifestyle components in order that they can be comprehended both conceptually, affectively and even physically. Clearly written presentations are necessary but not sufficient.

Also of interest is the problem of how to design transition strategies for the individual to allow him to switch to new modes of expression (from an awareness of his current mode) with the minimum of hiatus. (This question tears an interesting relationship to that of transition strategies to a new world order and as such could perhapsbe further explored.) The design discipline merits special consideration because of necessity it must creatively blend aesthetic and scientific matters (12).

A learning environment can be enviaged, supported by sophisticated hardware and software (with diagnostic, prognostic and display facilities), which would assist the individual in exploring and implementing a "new lifestyle design" via an appropriate transition strategy. Features of such an environment have already been developed in computer-aided design, computer-assisted instruction, and computer-assisted molecular structure elucidation. So far the affective component has only been brought in through earning and computer art and perhaps some experiments in artifical intelligence

On the other hand (and leaving aside the question of drug-assisted modification of personality), much is accomplished simply by exposing people to more or less structures experiences with others towards whose lifestyles they aspire. This may however constitute a more subtle form of lifestyle programming over which the individual has I little control once he has committed himself to the experience. Consider for example I the recently publicized cases of the activities of some sects and their effect on I teenagers. Presumably the ideal would be to use a hardware-based environment to help I provide and maintain perspective (under the individual's control) complemented by a I people-ware environment to give affective dimensions to the content and to test out I its significance.

Community design

Although the redesignofapersonal lifestyle may be desirable (provided it is recognized as an enrichment), so far there in no implication that thisis more than a personal indulgence. However in the current period of social transformation and crisis, it has frequently been noted how necessary it is to change the person to accompany and to render feasible any desired change in society (1).

Of special interest is the problem of determining an appropriate blend of roles, lifestyles and individuals in order to maintain a viable and satisfactory community. This problem is of less Importance where, as at present, the environments of work, home and recreation are normally separated. But once the relative sterility of these environments as currently experienced by many is acknowledged, then the question of alternative lifestyle settings is vital.

It nay well be that the increasingly widespread unemployment of youth (and the dissatisfaction of employed youth with the job experience when they have one) will provide the necessary stimulus for serious exploration of this question. The problem is that there is no understanding of:

Community design has always been considered in terns of material goods and rules (or the lack of them) and rarely in terms of the art and science of blending a sufficient variety of roles and lifestyles (as required by an adequate variety of personality types) in order to ensure an enriched experience for all on en economically viable base. Too often designed communities create the Impression of a form of lifestyle "monoculture" in which valuable forms of expression are rejected. It is vital to be able to show the consequences of specializing the lifestyle base of any setting.

If it can be shown how qualitatively superior settings (possibly of different types) car be established by blending together an appropriate mix of roles end lifestyles, this would constitute an innovation equivalent in significance to the development of suchinstitutions as the corporation. The way is then open to encourage the creation of such lifestyle "complexes" in the knowledge that there is a good probability that they will provide a positive life experience for individuals who would otherwise remain locked into relatively sterile lifestyles. (Research of this kind is also vital to the success of the extra-terrestrial environments which are nowbeing taken so seriously in the USA, although little attention is devoted to the psycho-social considerations which would otherwise lead to a recurrence of the problems which such environments are designed to escape.)

If the problem is defined as a design problem expressed in terms of roles and lifestyles and not in terms of material considerations. there is every possibility of en innovative solution which will embody a blend of scientific and aesthetic factors. There is a good chance that the qualitative superiority of such environments would alleviate. If not eliminate, the economic problems of establishing them.

Social indicators

As has been remarked before (13), the social indicators currently envisaged do not out the degree of psycho-social enrichment or impoverishment of a community (exceptby inference from the presence or absence of food, shelter, etc). The "cultural" indicators (newspapers, cinemas, radios, etc per capita) are as much an indication ofcapacity to "programme" and control the population. Greater attention should be given to "associative" or "horizontal" indicators of the ability of people to interact.

Some interesting possibilities include:

It would also be interesting to work with an Indicator of the number of ways in which the person is defined for legal and administrative purposes, e.g.: taxpayer, owner, employee, major/minor, qualified/unqualified. male/female, pensioner, etc as e means of measuring the officially reinforced fragmentation of the individual -- particularly since there is often little interrelationship between such definitions and the actions to which they give rise (because they are the responsibility of different ministeries which communicate inadequately)

However, lifestyle related Indicators will have to await greater understanding of the range of lifestyles end their interdependence before they can be adequately developed. But the possibility of using a method similar to input-output analysis certainly shows promise.

Conclusion

The problems faced in improving analysis of lifestyles as networks of roles end designing improved lifestyles bear a strong formal similarity to those of processing information on networks of organizations, problems, concepts and values. These have been explored elsewhere (1). There are of course links between the transition strategies for macro-social change and those for change in a lifestyle and it may well be that the two are isomorphic when represented in structural terms. Such links also pose e "chicken-end-the-egg" problem in that change in one cannot be effectively accomplished without change in the other -- from which one could conclude that the change agent must change for change to take place (2).

Use of the term design" in connection with lifestyles of course raises the question "who designs for whom". The recent spate of publicity on government research into drug-assisted personality modification illustrates the danger as does the spectre of "1984". The Question is what non-directive support can a person be given to redesign his own lifestyle. If the individual is defined as e system or network of interlinked roles any of which may be changed, are there adequate guidelines for the human rights implication and the freedom of the individual tot move into (and out of) roles and lifestyles rather than he locked into them (14).

Hopefully the current unemployment crisis, and its potential effect on youth, will impel governments to sponsor research and experiment into community design as a means of offering creative, economically viable environments for people who otherwise have no opportunity for lifestyle enrichment. Provided such investigation is not focussed on architectural considerations (as in the past) but rather on new combinations of roles, lifestyles and organizational hybrids, there is every possibility that some valuable new directions will emerge of significance to widespread social change (15).


References

1. Yearbook of World Problems and Human Potential. Brussels. Union of International Associations and Mankind 2000, 1976 [comments]

2. Anthony Judge. Complexity: its constraints on social Innovation. Transnational Associations. 29. 1977. 4, pp. 120-125; 5, pp. 178-188 [pdf]

3. Anthony Judge. Limits to Human Potential. Brussels. Union of International Associations and Mankind 2000, 1976 [text]

4. Anthony Judge. Meeting failure and participant frustration. International Associations, 28, 1976, 1, pp. 34-37 [pdf]

5. H. E. Huntley. The Divine Proportion; a study in mathematical beauty. New York, Dover. 1970

6. E. F. Haskell. Assembly of the Sciences into a Single Discipline. New York, 1968 and 1969

7. International Labour Office. International Standard Classification of Occupations. Geneva. IL0, 1969

8. US Department of Labour. Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Washington DC, US Govt Printing Office, 1965 (vol. 1: Definition of titles; vol. 2: Occupational classification)

9. International Commission on the Development of Education. Towards the complete man. In: Learning to Be. Peris. Unesco, 1972, pp. 153-158

10. Ramon Margalef. On certain unifying principles in ecology. In: A S Boughey (Ed). Contemporary Readings in Ecology. Dickenson. 1969

11. W T Jones. The Romantic Syndrome; toward a new method in cultural anthropology and history of ideas. Martinus Nijhof, 1961

12. J C Jones. Design Methods. Wiley, 1970

13. Anthony Judge. Information systems and inter-organizational space. Annals of the American Acadeny of Political and Social Science. 393. January 1971, pp. 47-64 (special issue on social development) [text]

14. Anthony Judge. The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Human Organization; an experimental extension of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. International Associations, 23, 1971. 1, pp. 7-26 [text]

15. Anthony Judge. Organizational hybrid: transnational network of research and service communities. Transnational Associations, 29, 1977, 7-a, pp. 306-311 [text]

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