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Life patterns in contemporary society: a conceptual and operational proposal
9th Conference of the European Sociological Association: European Society or European Societies
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Is it possible to draw a picture of the range of day-to-day life patterns of the society today? Sociological analyses in which the social description of populations is a fundamental element have had difficulty in integrating analytical dimensions on “work/production”, “consumption/leisure”, and “education/training” in a theoretically consistent and empirically elucidating manner. However, all these aspects have been seen to be crucial to contemporary forms of social existence and systematically reveal highly significant relationships among themselves. In addition, though the notion of the quality of life is vague and has many meanings, it unequivocally goes back to these areas, even if, sometimes, merely implicitly or informally. With the construction and analytical use of the concept of life patterns an attempt is made to respond to the theoretical and operational relevance of assimilating these three crucial axes of the characterisation of society. The main hypothesis guiding the work was that, with the coordination of these three dimensions, it would be possible to find a set of patterns characterising ways of life and levels of the quality of life. On an empirical level, the coordination mentioned and the actual verification of the hypothesis considered above demanded the combination of a number of indicators for the three dimensions, carried out using multivariate analysis procedures (The multivariate statistical approach included principal component analysis (PCA), homogeneity analysis (homals) and cluster analysis). The most important empirical source was the Portuguese Survey of Family Budgets (micro database), from National Statistic Institute. The substantive results of this project are presented here as an example of the theoretical and operational relevance of the analytical model proposed. These contributions follow the line of a vast array of research on social structures and social recomposition that various CIES-ISCTE researchers have developed over a considerable period in connection with a variety of specific subjects of study on different scales. The analyses produced were originally developed in the project “Padrões de vida: perfis and tendências na sociedade portuguesa contemporânea (desenvolvimentos conceptuais and exploração analítica de microdados estatísticos)”, carried out in CIES-ISCTE from 2000 to 2003 with FCT (Science and Technology Foundation) support (POCTI/36483/SOC/2000). See Mauritti, Martins, Antunes and Costa (2002), Costa, Mauritti, Martins and Antunes (2003), Martins (2004), Martins, Mauritti and Costa (2004), and Mauritti (2004a and 2004b).
Life Patterns; Portuguese Society; Microdata