Social Values: Functions and Importance

Social Values are important part of the culture of a society. Social values, norms and institutions explain the way in which social processes operate in a given society. They are the social sources of patterned interaction.

Definition of Values

According to Peter Worsley__ “Values are general conceptions of “the good”, ideas about the kind of ends that people should pursue throughout their lives and throughout the many different activities in which they engage”.

According to Michael Haralambos___ A value is a belief that something is good and worthwhile. It defines what is worth having and worth striving”.

According to Peter Worsley___ “Values are general conceptions of “the good”, ideas about the kind of ends that people should pursue throughout their lives and throughout the many different activities in which they engage”.

social values are standards of social behaviour derived from social interaction and accepted as constituent facts of social structure. They are objects that social conditions desire. These are culturally defined goals and involve “sentiments and significance”. These consist of “aspirational reference”.

Social values are expected to be followed for judging and evaluating social interaction, goals, means, ideas, feelings and the expected conduct. Without such evaluating standard, it would be difficult to judge individual behaviour or social action. Values aim to integrate expected individual behaviour and social action. It tends to forestall tension and as such have tension management role.

Functions of  Social Values

  1. Values provide goals or ends for the members to aim for.
  2. Values provide for stabilities and uniformities in group interaction. They hold the society together because they are shared in common. Some sociologists argue that shared values form the basis for social unity. Since they share the same values with others, the members of society are likely to see others as “people like themselves”. They will therefore, have a sense of belonging to a social group. They will feel a part of the wider society.
  3. Values bring legitimacy to the rules that govern specific activities. The rule are accepted as rules and followed mainly because they embody the values that most people accept. The Americans for example, believe that the capitalist organization is the best one because it allows people to seek success in life.
  4. Values help to bring about some kind of adjustment between different sets of rules. The people seek the same kinds of ends or goals in different field of their life. Hence, it is possible for them to modify the rules to help the pursuit of this end.