Lifestyle governance

Micro-level social transformations

Authored by: Triin Vihalemm , Margit Keller

The Routledge International Handbook of European Social Transformations

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781472477941
eBook ISBN: 9781315612942
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



Everyday consumption habits and people’s lifestyles affect the economic and social prosperity of societies, as they are latent mechanisms of social restructuration. In this chapter, the authors explain post-communist transformation and re-modernisation from the perspective of people’s everyday lifestyles and consumption habits and their governance via campaigns, product regulations and other similar means. The focus of the analysis is the shift from top-down state intervention to citizens’ habits to governing from a distance and the population’s emancipation and gradual learning of self-reflection and self-expression as civic and consuming subjects who may, in certain cases, also mobilise for collective actions. The authors explore five theoretical approaches: current prevention policies by Sulkunen, the Foucaultian concept of governance, the Giddensian concept of life politics and (post)modern subjectivity, lifestyle politics and political consumerism, and theories of social practices. Theoretical analysis is illustrated with examples from the authors’ original pilot study on the representation of attempts at lifestyle governance (product bans and campaigns) in mass media texts, assuming that media are important coordinating agents of social norms, channels for public promotion and venues for political debate. The authors conclude that power elites are tempted to define the problems of drinking, smoking, poor diets etc. narrowly, as matters of individual responsibility that may paradoxically encourage risky consumption as a socio-cultural compensation mechanism. Consumer freedom – no matter what the negative side effects of consumed goods are – as a form of emancipation of the self has shaped the public perception of attempts at lifestyle governance.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.