Values in Sociology Meaning, Definition & Functions with Examples

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 04:30 -- Umar Farooq


Values, belief and religion all the three are interrelated concept. According to Durkheim, "a religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices related to sacred things" It unites into a single moral community all who adhere to those beliefs and practices. From this definition, it is evident that belief is a part of religion. Besides that in a social system we find religion an important value in sacred societies. Religion is the big source of social and cultural values. All the human societies have values, beliefs and religion. Religion is one of the five basic institutions—family, education, economy, politics and religion.

Values are a part in the study of social norms. It is in the sense these are develop within the social structure and for the security of these very values norms are developed from the same situation where from values have sprung. These are "the conceptions of the good which influence selection from available ends, means, and modes of actions."


  1. H.M. Johnson: "values are general standards and may be regarded as higher order norms."
  2. Peter Worslay: "General conception 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."
  3. M. Haralambos: "a value is a belief that something is good and worthwhile. It defines what is worth having and worth striving for."

Values are cultural products as standards which men living in society win as prizes as having high importance. Thus it is a goal or objective. To attain that objective the corresponding institutionalized procedure is adopted. Laws cannot change social values. Some of these along their institutions are given below: There are values of:

  1. Power are attained through political institutions.
  2. Wealth are attained economic institutions.
  3. Affection are attained through family institution.
  4. Rectitude are attained through religious institutions.
  5. Skill and enlightenment are attained through educational institutions.

These can be achieved through its respective institution. Every culture provides a process and method of getting values. If an individual adopts another course besides the institutional one he violates the norms and is punished by society. As one gets wealthy by dacoity, theft or robbery he is criminal and punished according to the law of the society. It means the institutional procedure of getting the values is normal.


These differ from culture to culture. For example, tenets of Islam are a great value for Pakistani society; Confucius teachings, for Chinese, industrialization for Americans. These are the dominant interests of culture and the cultural goals. According to our culture, a few of our national values are Faith in Islam; safety of life, honor and property of the nation; honor to National flag and Anthem; preservation of national freedom and solidarity; chastity and modesty of women; respect for parents, teachers and religious leaders; generosity; mercy upon the aggrieved; cleanliness; truth; wearing national dress; and respect for the Holy Quran and Arabic writings.

Functions of Values

  1. Provides goals or ends for the members to aim for.
  2. Provide for stabilities and uniformities in group interaction, hence create sense of belongingness among people who shared commonly.
  3. Bring legitimacy to the rules that govern specific activities.
  4. Help to bring about some kind 'of adjustment between different sets of rules.
  5. differentiate between right and wrong and what is desirable and undesirable