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An alternative lifestyle is a lifestyle diverse in respect to mainstream ones, or generally perceived to be outside the cultural norm. Lifestyle is a media culture term derived from the concept of style in art. Usually, but not always, it implies an affinity or identification within some matching subculture (e.g. hippies, goths and punks). Some people with alternative lifestyles mix elements from various subcultures (grunge musicians were often influenced by a mixture of the punk, hippie, emo and heavy metal subcultures).
Not all minority lifestyles are held[by whom?] to be "alternative", so the term tends to apply to newer forms of lifestyle, often based upon enlarged freedoms (especially in the sphere of social styles), or a decision to substitute another approach, or to not follow the usual expected path in most societies.
Alternative lifestyles and subcultures originated in the 1920s with the "flapper" movement, when women cut their hair and skirts short (as a symbol of freedom from oppression and the old way of living). Women in the flapper age were the first large group of females to practice pre-marital sex, dancing, cursing, and driving in modern America without scandal following them. This was because this new flapper lifestyle was so popular that the flapper's brash behavior became more normal than previously thought.
The following are examples which may be considered by some to be alternative lifestyles:
- Nudism and clothing optional lifestyles
- Living in unusual communities, such as communes, intentional communities, ecovillages, off-the-grid, or the tiny house movement
- Traveling subcultures, including lifestyle travellers, housetrucking, and New Age travelling
- Restrictive dieting, such as vegetarianism, veganism, freeganism, or raw foodism
- Body modification, including tattoos, body piercings, suspension, and transdermal implants
- Non-normative sexual lifestyles, such as LGBT (often used euphemistically), BDSM, swinging, polyamory, and certain types of sexual fetishism or paraphilia
- Alternative child-rearing, such as homeschooling and home births
- Alternative medicine and natural methods of medical care or herbal remedies as medication
- Eastern religion as sought and practiced by some western converts into faiths based in East Asia and South Asia, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Shintoism, as opposed to Monotheism or Abrahamic belief systems
- Adherents to alternative spiritual and religious practices, such as vampirism, Wicca, Satanism, or cults
- Certain religious minorities, such as the Amish who pursue a non-technological or anti-technology lifestyle
- Bernstein, J. M. Introduction, in Adorno Culture industry p.35 quotation:
Diversity is more effectively present in mass media than previously, but this is not an obvious or unequivocal gain. By the late 1950s the homogenization of consciousness had become counterproductive for the purposes of capital expansion; new needs for new commodities had to be created, and this required the reintroduction of the minimal negativity that had been previously eliminated. The cult of the new that had been the prerogative of art throughout the modernist epoch into the period of post-war unification and stabilization has returned to capital expansion from which it originally sprang. But this negativity is neither shocking nor emancipatory since it does not presage a transformation of the fundamental structures of everyday life. On the contrary, through the culture industry capital has co-opted the dynamics of negation both diachronically in its restless production of new and ‘different’ commodities and synchronically in its promotion of alternative ‘life-styles’.
‘Life-styles’, the culture industry’s recycling of style in art, represent the transformation of an aesthetic category, which once possessed a moment of negativity [shocking, emancipatory], into a quality of commodity consumption.
- Makai, Michael (September 2013). Domination & Submission: The BDSM Relationship Handbook. Createspace. ISBN 1492775975.