‘Social Values’ form an 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.
Values account for the stability of the social order. They provide the general guidelines for conduct. In doing so, they facilitate social control. Values are the criteria people use in assessing their daily lives, arranging their priorities, measuring their pleasures and pains, choosing between alternative courses of action.
1. “Values are group conceptions of the relative desirability of things” — G.R. Leslie, R.F. Larson, H.L. Gorman.
2. According to H.M. Johnson, “Values are general standards and may be regarded as higher order norms”.
3. “Values are assumptions, largely unconscious, of what is right and important”— Young and Mack.
4. “A value is a belief that something is good and worthwhile. It defines what is worth having and worth striving for.”—Michael Haralambos.
5. “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 engagz”.-Peter Worsley.
6. In simple words, values may be defined as measure of goodness or desirability.
Thus, it is clear from the above definitions that values represent wide range of ideas about the ends that men should pursue in their life. The values of a society provide goals or ends for its members to aim for. These goals or ends are to be pursued in different contexts and situations. If the dominant value is “success “, then, it expects all the individuals to become successful at school, in work, at sports and in life, in general.
Values provide the general guidelines for the behaviour of the people. Thus, values such as respect for human dignity, fundamental rights, private property, patriotism, fidelity to wife or to the husband, religiosity, sacrifice, helpfulness, co-operation, individual enterprise, free marital selection, individuality, social equality, privacy, democracy, etc., guide our behaviour in various ways.