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La vita buona e il viver bene

The "Good Life" and "Good Living"

Anno XXIII, n. 101, aprile-giugno 1988
Centro Einaudi


Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese

In this article, considerations are made on some of the aspects consumption has assumed, or is assuming, in Italy over the last few years. The argument starts off with the distinction between "good life" and "good living". It is established that the second option—"good living"—has clearly overcome the first in the behaviour of Italians. Indeed, consumption may reasonably be regarded as the emblematic phenomenon of the way in which development has taken shape in Italy.
In this sense, consumption may be seen to present three special characteristics: a) it is always self-centred: that is, it is performed with a high component of individual decision-making and tends to incorporate "values"; b) it is "polytheistic" in the sense that the consumer tends to live in a whole series of different constellations of behaviours, culture, and values; c) it is "non-economic": that is, it tends to satisfy the desire for irrationality and unreasonableness, in a certain sense, to neutralize two centuries of "enlightenment". Precisely due to this complexity of motivations, the development of consumption may be seen as not having wholly expressed its power to transform socially and economically. In other words, it is destined to last as a phenomenon and will still have to be studied a great deal.