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life-style A concept with somewhat different meanings and usages. In British sociology it has often been employed in the embourgeoisement debate about the nature of the British class structure. In this particular context, it is argued that workers are increasingly adopting middle-class mores and attitudes, such that social class differences are becoming less significant as members of all classes come to share similar patterns of consumption and social behaviour.

But the term can have a much wider usage. For example, it can signpost different ways of living as between urban life and rural life, so that (following Georg Simmel and Louis Wirth) urbanism becomes a way (or style) of life. Alternatively, it can refer to contrasting ways of life found among different groups in society, such as the young, unemployed, or deviant. In its most common and general usage, the term conceptualizes alternative ways of living, usually conspicuous through values and modes of consumption, which are attendant upon the increasing differentiation of advanced capitalist societies. Such differentials, which are in some ways similar to Max Weber's notion of status groups, are sometimes seen to be replacing socio-economic class as the cardinal principle of social division. See also SUBCULTURE.

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