Migration and the search for a better way of life: a critical exploration of lifestyle migration

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Abstract

For the past few years, the term ‘lifestyle migration’ has been used to refer to an increasing number of people who take the decision to migrate based on their belief that there is a more fulfilling way of life available to them elsewhere. Lifestyle migration is thus a growing, disparate phenomenon, with important but little understood implications for both societies and individuals. This article outlines and explores in detail a series of mobilities that have in common relative affluence and this search for a better lifestyle. We attempt to define the limits of the term lifestyle migration, the characteristics of the lifestyle sought, and the place of this form of migration in the contemporary world. In this manner, we map the various migrations that can be considered under this broad rubric, recognising the similarities and differences in their migration trajectories. Further to this, drawing on the sociological literature on lifestyle, we provide an initial theoretical conceptualisation of this phenomenon, attempting to explain its recent escalation in various guises, and investigating the historical, sociological, and individualised conditions that inspire this migration. This article is thus the first step in defining a broader programme for the study of lifestyle migration. We contend that the study of this migration is especially important in the current era given the impact such moves have on places and people at both ends of the migratory chain.

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