School of Arts

Carmel Goulding

CRCAH doctoral candidate

‘A Life Less Ordinary’ To Downshift or not? Why people make or don’t make decisions to change their lives?'


This research seeks to understand the relationship between lifestyle choice and personal well-being in modern economies. The thesis is based on the premise that lifestyle choice in advanced economies has widened and this is primarily due to the relationship between improved social and economic conditions and attitudinal and value change. This thesis seeks to examine why some people radically alter their lifestyles with the aim of improving personal well-being while others do not. It asks the question why and how do people make decisions to substantially change their life in terms of relationship to work, place and community? Taking radical lifestyle change such as downshifting and voluntary simplification as evidence of alternative lifestyle choice, the thesis argues that normative influences contribute the construction and maintenance of lifestyles. Examining the decision making process and personal narratives of people who have consciously and deliberately modified there way of living, for example, reduced working hours or style of work to improve well-being, provides insight into the construction of modern lifestyles and the process of disentangling a less than optimal lifestyle choices.


Carmel is an experienced professional with a background in sociology and economics. Her professional experience covers senior roles industry consulting and government. Her expertise is in tourism economics, project management and research design. Recently returned to academic life, Carmel has restarted her thesis on lifestyle choice in modern economies.