The Socio-cutural Dimension in the Study of Living Conditions {short description of image}{short description of image}
Until recently, studies dealing with the standard of living focused on the purely economic factors that determine this standard, and on socio-economic interventions to modify it. However, the cultural and sociological contributions made by social scientists and anthropologists showed that human behavior is not confined to purely economic factors but that culture, in the broad sense, and historical events have an important role in shaping this behavior. Moreover, the distinction between basic and non-basic needs, and luxuries, varies from one place, system and culture, to another.

The study of the cultural dimension acquires more significance in developing societies, such as the Lebanese society which is torn between two different reactions in facing the life styles associated with the consumer society and the market economy. The first kind of reaction is generally characterized by acceptance and adaptation to life styles that appear as reactions to prevailing norms and practices; the second by rejection and refusal to identify with the cultural origins of this way of life. The life styles of the Lebanese and, hence, their living standards, have been influenced by this duality as manifested in regional, or the multiplicity of cultural and social, differentiation.

Hence, it is expected that studies of living conditions would take into consideration the cultural factors and complexities, and the interaction between the cultural and economic aspects, when designing or adapting tools for measuring the standard of living. This dimension has been taken into account to a certain extent when defining the indicators and thresholds of deprivation for the purposes of this study, and in the course of the analysis which incorporated the socio-cultural dimension as one of the ingredients explaining household and individual behavior, and in assessing their status within the social hierarchy.