The purpose of the essay is to present and to clarify the main lifestyles of the American life, to focus on the way they define the economical and social arena, and to argue how Arnold Mitchell’s affirmations in his work, The Nine American Lifestyles: Who We Are and Where We Are Going, played and important role in predicting the future. His book was published on May 1st , 1984 and explains what “lifestyle” means and how our values and beliefs describe us and our future, both economically and socially. In the first part of my essay I will define the keywords and I will illustrate Mitchell’s nine lifestyles, whereas in the second part I will detail how his work succeeds in exposing a veridical image of the economical and social future. Following Marieke de Mooij, Global Marketing and Advertising: Understanding Cultural Paradoxes (2010), Ronald D. Michman, Edward M.
Mazze and Alan James Greco, Lifestyle Marketing: Reaching the New American Consumer(2003), and Karl Erik Rosengren, Media Effects and Beyond: Culture, Socialization and Lifestyles (2005), I prove that the statements made by Arnold Mitchell are truthful. I hope that by the end of this paper I will be able to demonstrate my theory, that we, as human beings, are the demiurges of our own destiny and society, and that we are responsible for our future and welfare.In the first paragraph, I will make a short introduction into A. Mitchell’s work, I will define the main terms he emphasised in his book, I will present the values and lifestyles (VALS) that made him elaborate four possible scenarios for the near future and I will demonstrate why these values are hard to monitor in the contamporary world. By analysing the title, I can anticipate what is going to be presented and demonstrated in his book. “Lifestyle”, the leitmotif of his work, does not refer to money or to the way people roll it, but it certainly refers to the meanings someone attributes to life and to the way we, people, guide our purposes and goals. “Who We Are” is a syntagm that indicates the nine American lifestyles in which people are divided, and “Where Are We Going” is a collocation that defines the possible future scenarios.
Moreover, A. Mitchell offers a general classification of American people, based on their values and lifestyles (VALS), a concept developed by SRI International in 1978 in “an attempt to put people into the thinking of those of us trying to understand the trends of our times – in the marketplace, economically, politically, sociologically, and humanly” (Robert Gilman, Rediscovering the North American Vision, article “SRI’s Values and Lifestyle Program- VALS – a look at the culture through people’s diverse attitudes, needs, wants, beliefs, and demographics, 1983, page 12, context.org/iclib/ic03/srivals/.
Accessed on 23 January 2018). The term “value” refers to everything that defines us and differentiates us from one human being to another, from hopes, needs, feelings to beliefs, opinions, desires and these values are “taught at an early age in an absolute manner. They describe what people in general think the world ought to be in an absolute way: freedom, peace. … Values are more stable than attitudes and occupy a more central position in a person’s cognitive system” (Marieke de Mooij, Global Global Marketing and Advertising: Understanding Cultural Paradoxes, 2010, “The Value Concept” Chapter, pg.
46). Based on VALS, four different categories of people were provided: need-driven, outer-directed, inner-directed and combined outer- and inner- directed people.Additionally, these four kind of groups were divided in nine distinctive subdivisions, such as: survivors ( extreme poverty, poor education, they lost hope), sustainers (poverty, they did not give up hope), belongers (middle-class Americans, patriotic), emulators (hard working people, successful), achievers (successful and happy people), I-Am-Mes (the youngest subdivison characterized by narcissism), experientials (well educated people who have professional jobs), societally conscious (mature and successful people), and integrateds (open people, creators and observers). It is clear that these distributions define the world we live in, in one way or another, but what makes these values hard to monitor nowadays? Further, I will present the elements that influence A. Mitchell’s anticipation of the near future, based on values. These values are relative and they correspond to different periods of life, from childhood to maturity, from the 80’s to the contemporany world. Being included in one subdivison at the moment, it does not mean that a person will always be identified according to the values that subdivion serves. The continuous changes, technology and political inclinations are ones of the main reasons why “values” do not represent a factor that characterizes and frames a person in a particular pattern.
A good example to sustain my affirmation is presented in Lifestyle Marketing: Reaching the New American Consumer, a book written by Ronald D. Michman, Edward M. Mazze and Alan James Greco in 2003: Years ago an individual’s occupation defined his or her lifestyle. Today, a person could be a dentist and a gourmet cook, a fitness zealot, a single living alone, and an environmentalist.
… The values will vary in importance and priorities from decade to decade. Age, education, occupation, and gender will be variables as the assessment and significance of these values shift in importance. (Chapter 4, Changig Values and Lifestyles, pg. 80-81). In the second part of my essay I will present the four possible scenarios for the future A.
Mitchell defined in his book, and I will detail how his work can be considered a prediction of the contemporary world and of the near future. After achieving these points, I will conclude by presenting the most appropriate and relevant scenario that portrays best the current world that we live in. Starting from A. Mitchell’s classification, there are four scenarios that could describe the future life, both speaking politically and socially: the “Renaissance” future, the “Bouncy Prosperity” future, the “Hard Times” future and, the last but not least, the “Transformation” future.
The first future, the “Renaissance” one, is expected to improve the employment situation which is beneficial for some categories such as Sustainers and Survivors, as well as the second scenario, the “Bouncy Prosperity” one, should describe the political and social life as a “future marked by booming good times” (Michael Marien, Future Survey Annual-1982, volumes 4-6, pg. 19). The “Bouncy Prosperity” also marked the begining of the I-Am-Mes’ dissapearing.Contrastingly, the “Hard-times” scenario presents another image of the future world, an imagine settled by low economy and by the absence of Emulators and I-Am-Mes subdivisions.
Each subdivion is affected in one way or another, with the exception of Survivors, because they struggle with hard times already. The last version of the future, the ” Transformation” one, presents, like the previous one, a low and chaotic economical and political life, but it focuses more on philosofical life. After these brief descriptions of each of the four scenarios, I claim that the most appropriate scenario of the present world is the “Hard-Times” one, because it provides a truthful image of the actual framework: political and economical crisis, poverty, low salaries and high taxes, insecurities and anxieties, closed-mindedness and instability.The end of Arnold Mitchell’s work brings out a series of deliberations whose purpose is to clarify which should be humans’ beliefs: “living in the way we believe the world should be”.
This paper menaged to present and clarify the nine American lifestyle subdivisions, to define the keywords, to exemplify the main possible scenarios of the future life and to demonstrate why the values and lifestyles (VALS) are hard to monitor as long as they are in a continuing changeableness. In addition, according to Karl Erik Rosengren’s book, Media Effects and Beyond: Culture, Socialization and Lifestyles, I can claim that Arnold Mitchell’s book, The Nine American Lifestyles: Who We Are and Where We Are Going, is ” one of the most influencial books in lifestyle research during the 1980s. In brief, A. Mitchell conceptualizes and describes his book on the basis of Maslow’s well-known hierarchy of needs” (Chapter 12, pg. 265).
This “hierarchy of needs” has five levels of needs: physiological needs, security needs, recognition needs, esteem needs and accomplishment needs (Pierre Pichere, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, page 5).