What are the twelve core values in US society identified by sociologist Robin Williams?

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In 1970, sociologist Robin Williams identified twelve core values in American society. These twelve values include personal achievement, work, individualism, humanitarianism, efficiency and practicality, progress, material comfort, science and rationality, equality, democracy, freedom, and racial and group superiority.

People in the US strive to become successful and accomplished and surpass others through personal achievement. Work is valued in the US as a way to be productive and contribute to achievement and society. Individualism is described as promoting and relying on a person's own strength and sense of self, or having one's own identity even while being part of a group or nation. Helping others in need and having sympathy for fellow human beings is expressed through humanitarianism. The ability to get things done quickly and efficiently while not wasting resources is practiced through efficiency and practicality. Americans value progress, the effort to move forward and make improvements in many different areas of life. Material comforts are important in the US: having basic needs met, such as food and shelter, and the ability to live in relative comfort. Adapting science and rationality to promote improvements in the world of scientific discovery and technology is a part of American life. Many Americans strive to promote equality within opportunity, culture, and society. Democracy has been a value of the United States since the founding of the country; it ideally allows for the expression of personal opinions and the making of decisions based on majority vote. The ability to conduct one's own life with few limitations gives Americans the value of freedom. On the negative end, racial and group superiority is the belief that some groups of people are superior to others.

As a note of interest, Robin Williams added three more values to his revised list of core values of US society in 1975. These were education, religiosity, and romantic love.

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Robin Williams argues that American society has 12 major values that are basic to that society.  They are:

  •  Individualism.  We think that people can and should rise or fall on their own merits.  
  • Achievement and Success.  We think that it is important to succeed and to achieve big things.  It can be important to be more successful than others.
  • Activity and Work.  This is like the Puritan work ethic.  We think work is good for its own sake.
  • Efficiency and Practicality.  We think it is important to do things as efficiently as possible.
  • Science and Technology.  We prefer to use science and technology to solve all of our problems.
  • Progress.  We think everything should constantly get better.
  •  Material Comfort.  We expect to have a very high material standard of living.
  • Humanitarianism.  We think it is important to be kind and helpful to others, particularly those in need.
  • Freedom.  We feel it is important to be able to do whatever we want.
  • Democracy.  We think everyone has the right to be heard and that the majority should rule.
  • Equality.  We think that it is important for everyone to be equal in the eyes of the law.
  • Racism and Group Superiority.  Paradoxically, we think some groups are better than others.
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