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Social Theory & Health

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 361–378 | Cite as

The healthy lifestyle in longevity narratives

  • Chrystal Jaye
  • Jessica Young
  • Richard Egan
  • Rebecca Llewellyn
  • Wayne Cunningham
  • Peter Radue
Original Article

Abstract

What does the term ‘healthy lifestyle’ mean to middle-aged adults (54–65 years)? Participants in an interview study about longevity described the ‘healthy lifestyle’ largely in terms of diet, exercise and prevention, and avoidance behaviours. It was evident that the healthy lifestyle was an ideal that required participants to make many choices in their daily lives based on what they considered to be ‘right’ and ‘good’. In describing their adherence to a healthy lifestyle, we argue that participants’ perspectives reveal contemporary discourses of healthism that are characterised by self-responsibility, as well as notions of risk and consequence. These discourses represent normalising moral technologies that shape citizens’ behaviours and reflect Liechter’s (1997) new secular morality. Participants engaged variously with these technologies ranging from ambivalence, zealousness, negotiation, bargaining, and resistance. Family doctors play a critical role in helping people to navigate the disciplinary apparatus of normalising moral technologies that underpin the healthy lifestyle.

Keywords

Healthism Healthy lifestyle New Zealand 

Notes

Funding

This study was funded by a University of Otago Research Grant.

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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chrystal Jaye
    • 1
  • Jessica Young
    • 1
  • Richard Egan
    • 2
  • Rebecca Llewellyn
    • 2
  • Wayne Cunningham
    • 3
  • Peter Radue
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General Practice and Rural HealthUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Preventive and Social MedicineUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  3. 3.Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland - Medical University of BahrainAdilyaBahrain

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