It’s a big word, “movement.” It conjures up rhizomatic connections of like-mindedness, of collective spirit in motion toward a common goal or vision. It might be in the best interest of organizations that brand themselves as LOHAS to describe LOHAS as a movement because the word conveys a sense of growing excitement and interest in the products and services. I’ve described it as such,  but I use the term a bit differently, perhaps.

In my book, The Gospel of Sustainability: Media, Market and LOHAS, I borrowed scholar Wouter Hanegraaff’s very useful definition of movement in his discussion of the New Age  (2005, 44).

I modified his key elements of a movement to address the LOHAS phenomenon as such:

  • “They are not membership organizations.” This is true for LOHAS businesses in the United States (Japan has consumer-based LOHAS clubs, however). There is no central committee approving membership, only events, media and commodities that are open to anyone who can pay.
  • “They come to be perceived as movements mostly because the popular media find a certain term that seems useful to them as a general label.” I find this to be the case with LOHAS, a term that was created through and with various market research that was useful to the organizations adopting the term.
  • “Once this happens, many people begin to associate themselves, their ideas and their activities with the ‘movement’ identified by that label.” The term LOHAS has caught on globally and is especially strong in the Pacific Rim countries.. Its appeal among consumers now as an identity (LOHASians) has been interesting to watch considering that the term itself is quite porous with regard to what can and cannot be considered LOHAS in nature.
  • People do not self-identify with a LOHAS movement and most likely have a number of other self identities in operation as well. The diversity of industries that participate in LOHAS and the range of social movements it encompasses attest to this.
  • Nonetheless, their association with LOHAS can be demonstrated through their actual behavior and participation.

LOHAS is mostly, I believe, a discourse: a thing created in and through language. Check out this video about the power of words and labeling:

Can the learning the meaning of words actually change the food system, they ask? You be the judge.

What’s your lexicon of sustainability?