In a world of alternative lifestyle options, strategic life planning becomes of special importance. Like lifestyle patterns, life plans of one kind or another are something of an inevitable concomitant of post-traditional social forms. Life plans are the substantial content of the reflexively organised trajectory of the self. Life-planning is a means of preparing a course of future actions mobilised in terms of the self's biography. We may also speak here of the existence of personal calendars or life-plan calendars, in relation to which the personal time of the lifespan is handled.
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Thinking in terms of risk certainly has its unsettling aspects (...), but it is also a means of seeking to stabilise outcomes, a mode of colonising the future. The more or less constant, profound and rapid momentum of change characteristic of modern institutions, coupled with structured reflexivity, mean that on the level of everyday practice as well as philosophical [Seitenwechsel] interpretation, nothing can be taken for granted. What is acceptable/appropriate/recommended behaviour today may be seen differently tomorrow in the light of altered circumstances or incoming knowledge-claims.
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The body is an object in which we are all privileged, or doomed, to dwell, the source of feelings of well-being and pleasure, but also the site of illnesses and strains. (...) [I]t is an action-system, a mode of praxis, and its practical immersion in the interactions of day-to-day life is an essential part of the sustaining of a coherent sense of self-identity.
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The flow of action continually produces consequences which are unintended by actors, and these unintended consequences also may form unacknowledged conditions of actions in a feedback fashion. Human history is created by intentional activities but is not an intended project; it persistently eludes efforts to bring it under conscious direction.
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A lifestyle involves a cluster of habits and orientations, and hence has a certain unity - important to a continuing sense of ontological security - that connects options in a more or less ordered pattern. (...) [T]he selection or creation of lifestyles is influenced by group pressures and the visibility of role models, as well as by socioeconomic circumstances.
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[C]ultivated risk-taking represents an 'experiment with trust' (in the sense of basic trust) which consequently has implications for an individual's self-identity. (...) In cultivated risk-taking, the encounter with danger and its resolution are bound up in the same activity, whereas in other consequential settings the payoff of chosen strategies may not be seen for years afterwards.
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To live in the universe of high modernity is to live in an environment of chance and risk, the ineveitable concomitants of a system geared to the domination of nature and the reflexive making of history. Fate and destiny have no formal part to play in such a system, which operates (as a matter of principle) via what I shall call open human control of the natural and social worlds.
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Abstract systems depend on trust, yet they provide none of the moral rewards which can be obtained from personalised trust, or were often available in traditional settings from the moral frameworks within which everyday life was undertaken. Moreover, the wholesale penetration of abstract systems into daily life creates risks which the individual is not well placed to confront; high-consequence risks fall into this category. Greater interdependence, up to and including globally independent systems, means greater vulnerability when untoward events occur that affect those systems as a whole.
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Both life-planning and the adoption of lifestyle options become (in principle) integrated with bodily regimes. It would be quite short-sighted to see this phenomenon only in terms of changing ideals of bodily appearance (such as slimness or youthfulness), or as solely brought about by the commodifying influence of advertising. We become responsible for the design of our own bodies, and in a certain sense noted above are forced to do so the more post-traditional the social contexts in which we move.
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Regimes are modes of self-discipline, but are not solely constituted by the orderings of convention in day-to-day life; they are personal habits, organised in some part according to social conventions, but also formed by personal inclinations and dispositions. Regimes are of central importance to self-identity precisely because they connect habits with aspects of the visible appearance of the body.
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