In sociology, what is the difference between real and ideal values?

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In sociology, there are real values and ideal values. Ideal values are the basic goals and tenants of society, usually set forth and examined by philosophers, and not intrinsically grounded in the real world. In short, these are relatively impractical and unattainable. Perfect liberty is an ideal value but is...

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In sociology, there are real values and ideal values. Ideal values are the basic goals and tenants of society, usually set forth and examined by philosophers, and not intrinsically grounded in the real world. In short, these are relatively impractical and unattainable. Perfect liberty is an ideal value but is difficult to attain because the governmental agreement of a social contract necessitates that some liberties are given up for the good of society at large.

Real values, however, are derived from real-world practices. This means that they are practical and are the standards that are upheld in business, society, and the government. Real values, such as capitalism, dictate practices like the free market and supply and demand, which are fundamental aspects of the economy.

So, while real values are more practical and are grounded in reality, ideal values are those for which a society strives.

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Real values in a society, and in the sociological field, often involve that which is concrete or material, something tangible, such as financial success, home ownership, or a promotion, but can also include the completion of short and long term goals, such as moving out of the house or getting married and starting a family, etc.  That is to say, real values fall in the realm of the tangible and achievable, and often also reflect what society defines as real values. Ideal values are usually expressed in the abstract, that is, they are hard to quantify or show evidence of.  Patriotism is one such example of an ideal value, as is democracy.  It is something a society may strive for, and the individuals within that society may say are among their top values, but the ideal itself is not achievable.  No society is ever fully equal, fully just, no population fully patriotic.  Yet the pursuit of the ideal is still very important, and often social progress is dependent on it. There is continual debate about what constitutes these values in either the real or the ideal, (what does it mean, for example, to be a "patriot"?) but the pursuit of the ideal and the achievement of the real in terms of values is part of the common everyday existence and motivations of a society.
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