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  • Understand how values and beliefs differ from norms
  • Explain the significance of symbols and language to a culture
  • Explain the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
  • Discuss the role of social control within culture

Values and beliefs

The first, and perhaps most crucial, elements of culture we will discuss are its values and beliefs. Values are a culture’s standard for discerning what is good and just in society. Values are deeply embedded and critical for transmitting and teaching a culture’s beliefs. Beliefs are the tenets or convictions that people hold to be true. Individuals in a society have specific beliefs, but they also share collective values. To illustrate the difference, Americans commonly believe in the American Dream—that anyone who works hard enough will be successful and wealthy. Underlying this belief is the American value that wealth is good and important.

Values help shape a society by suggesting what is good and bad, beautiful and ugly, sought or avoided. Consider the value that the United States places upon youth. Children represent innocence and purity, while a youthful adult appearance signifies sexuality. Shaped by this value, individuals spend millions of dollars each year on cosmetic products and surgeries to look young and beautiful. The United States also has an individualistic culture, meaning people place a high value on individuality and independence. In contrast, many other cultures are collectivist, meaning the welfare of the group and group relationships are a primary value.

Living up to a culture’s values can be difficult. It’s easy to value good health, but it’s hard to quit smoking. Marital monogamy is valued, but many spouses engage in infidelity. Cultural diversity and equal opportunities for all people are valued in the United States, yet the country’s highest political offices have been dominated by white men.

Values often suggest how people should behave, but they don’t accurately reflect how people do behave. Values portray an ideal culture    , the standards society would like to embrace and live up to. But ideal culture differs from real culture    , the way society actually is, based on what occurs and exists. In an ideal culture, there would be no traffic accidents, murders, poverty, or racial tension. But in real culture, police officers, lawmakers, educators, and social workers constantly strive to prevent or repair those accidents, crimes, and injustices. American teenagers are encouraged to value celibacy. However, the number of unplanned pregnancies among teens reveals that not only is the ideal hard to live up to, but the value alone is not enough to spare teenagers the potential consequences of having sex.

One way societies strive to put values into action is through rewards, sanctions, and punishments. When people observe the norms of society and uphold its values, they are often rewarded. A boy who helps an elderly woman board a bus may receive a smile and a “thank you.” A business manager who raises profit margins may receive a quarterly bonus. People sanction certain behaviors by giving their support, approval, or permission, or by instilling formal actions of disapproval and nonsupport. Sanctions are a form of social control    , a way to encourage conformity to cultural norms. Sometimes people conform to norms in anticipation or expectation of positive sanctions: good grades, for instance, may mean praise from parents and teachers. From a criminal justice perspective, properly used social control is also inexpensive crime control. Utilizing social control approaches pushes most people to conform to societal rules, regardless of whether authority figures (such as law enforcement) are present.

Questions & Answers

how does the family ensure social order and continuity in the society
Hazel Reply
can someone please explain more about sociology theory..
Srijana Reply
Sociological theory according to Robert K. Merton (1967) refers to logically interconnected sets of propositions from which empirical uniformities can be derived
Ameh
what is culture?
mohammad Reply
way of living
Sultan
culture is the way people live their life's....
Noah
The beliefs, values, behaviour and material objects that constitute a people's way of life.
young
culture is the sum total of knowledge , attitudes and habitual behavioural pattern shares and transmitted by members of the society.
AHUMBE
What is sociological imagination
Abubakarr Reply
what are the agent of socialization?
AHUMBE Reply
why is sociology important as a student of Hospitality and Tourism?
Oluwabukola Reply
hlo
Samir
hi
Muluken
sociology is very important becaus , it set students to career advancement , .it also enrich the development in the society . It also educates students to know what is unknown to them but supposed to be known , like histories,
AHUMBE
★ Define family and marriage and identify their different historical types.
Abir Reply
family is a group of people who share or have common kin connection. Marriage is when two people share kin connection and have a sexual approved union between them.
Stanford
Family group of people that are by all means related by blood from two sources and they also have many things in common life face resemblance and manny more.... Marriage is simply a connection between two people of different genthers with the soul aim of building a family in a life time
Dura
what is sociology
Sonia Reply
sociology is a social science and also a mirror through which human beings look into the societies. In addition it's a study of the society.
Ameh
Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior.
young
sociology is the systematiç study of human society, social behavior, human interaction, and human group.
AHUMBE
explain the positive deviance promoting growth and development in (a)socialization (b)social group pressure and coercion
Precious Reply
What is condition in india retative to socialize.
Pintu Reply
any benefit reading of sociology
Waseem Reply
yes! there's a lot of benefits
Ameh
because it's the scientific study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture of everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, acceptance, and chang
Ameh
....e or social evolution
Ameh
hello
Tilahun
what are the specific characteristics contributes to the inequality that is inherent in capitalism as an economic and social action? according to Karl Marx
Mokgohlwe Reply
the five basic social institution
GRACE Reply
The five social institutions are: 1. Family, 2.political 3.Religious. 4. economic. 5.Education
AHUMBE
French Revolution review of literature topic
Nadeem Reply
discuss it is singfinct by giving example from Pakistan socitey?
manan
ans baijo
manan
what is social satisfaction
Calistas Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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