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2.3 Access-based Well-being


2.3 Access-based Well-being Let us return to events associated with notions of well-being and their evolution. Recently, at least in more developed industrial societies (but also in cosmopolitan strata of every other globalised society) a new idea about the quality of life has stood out and started to spread. This conception, which is related to the evolution of the contemporary economy towards a service- and knowledge-based economy, can be summarised in slogans “from material to immaterial possessions” and “from possession to access2”. Against the background of this new economy, resultant ideas and manners, the old central position of material benefits in the conception of life standards becomes obsolete: well-being appears to be separated from the possession and consumption of a “breadbasket” of material benefits, and associable rather with available access to a series of services, experiences and intangible benefits.

2.3.1 The World Is Like a Theme Park For a society that is currently saturated with material products, can immaterial goods appear to be something “that really makes a difference”? The most important aspect here is that currently, when different lifestyles are characterised by mobility and flexibility, the mere possession of goods seems to be too heavy and rigid a solution, an unbearably stiff habit for a background that wants to appear as light and flexible as possible. In line with this vision, defined as access-based well-being, the quality of life is evaluated by the quantity and quality of available services and experiences. In this case, the theme parks are the most emblematic figures: a place, where one can choose, which experience to go through, and where everything is carefully designed to offer as exciting an adventure as possible, provided that one has the money to pay for the ticket3. This emerging vision, which is by the way already dominant in “more developed” societies, has proved itself, both on a social and on an environmental level, to be totally unsustainable. Social restrictions are evident: the emphasis on a user’s experience, elaborated in a short-sighted economic background, as is unfortunately common, results in a supply of experience packages, conceived and realised in the exact same way as traditional goods; as something meant to be consumed fast and in big quantities. With the result of the metaphor of theme park being most appropriate to represent the new concept of well-being, to live well signifies a possibility to gain ac2

Cf. Cova (1995); Pine and Gilmore (1999); Rifkin (2000). The vision of life as passing from one attraction to another, and the vision of the world as a theme park, is transforming after 9/11 into a world of gated villages, where everybody can feel safe from the dangers outside. But in the end, even gated villages can be seen as theme parks of security.


Design for Environmental Sustainability  
Design for Environmental Sustainability  

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