The definition of cultural values It is not easy to establish, since they vary according to the different traditions that constitute the cultural heritage of humanity. Broadly, they can be defined as the immaterial set of goods (ideas, considerations and ideals) for which a human group considers it worthy to strive and fight. For instance: tradition, empathy, freedom, education.
This does not mean that they are strictly translated into specific behaviors, since they often belong to the sphere of the idealized or imagination, which is why art is the spokesperson for these values. The cultural values of one society often contradict those of another: then conflict ensues.
There is no uniform set of cultural values in a given society: there are usually majority and minority securities, hegemonic and marginal, as well as inherited and innovative.
Nor should they be confused with religious and moral values: these are part of cultural values, which are a larger category.
Examples of cultural values
- Tradition. This is the name given to a set of rituals, worldviews and linguistic and social practices inherited from previous generations and that offer an answer to the subject’s question about their own origins.
- Empathy. This is defined as the ability to suffer for others, that is, to put oneself in their shoes: respect, solidarity, compassion and other virtues that many forms of religion assume as divine mandates, and that promote the universal rights of man and the forms of civil courtesy.
- Liberty. Another of the supreme values of humanity, whose principle is the undeniable and non-negotiable free will of individuals, over their bodies and their goods.
- National identity. It is about the collective feeling of belonging to a human group, usually identified with a specific name or a nationality. In some cases, this spirit can also be anchored to a criterion of races, creeds or a certain type of shared vision of the world.
- Religiosity and mysticism. This refers to the forms of spirituality, symbolic communion and ritual practices that, whether inherited or learned, communicate the subject with an experience of the otherworldly world.
- Education. Human collectivities value the formation of the individual, both academic, moral and civic, as an aspiration to the betterment of man, that is, to the enhancement of his talents and capacities, as well as the domestication of his instincts.
- Affectivity. It includes emotional ties: of love or companionship, from which to forge the relationship of greater or lesser intimacy with others. Many of these affectivities forge, on a large scale, the feeling of harmonious community.
- Childhood. In times prior to the 20th century, children were considered small people and their integration into the productive apparatus was expected. The assumption of childhood as a stage of life that must be sheltered and nurtured is precisely a cultural value.
- Patriotism. Patriotism represents a high sense of duty towards the rest of the society to which one belongs and a deep attachment to the traditional values that it harbors. It is a supreme form of collective loyalty.
- Peace. Harmony as the ideal state of societies is a value universally desired by human groups, although our history seems to show precisely the opposite.
- Art. As an existential exploration of the deep subjectivities or philosophies of man, art forms are cultural values promoted and defended by societies and preserved from one generation to another.
- Memory. The collective and individual memory of the subjects is one of the most ardently defended values, both in the form of art and in history or political activity in its different facets. Ultimately, it is about the only way to transcend death: to be remembered or to remember what happened.
- Progress. One of the most questioned cultural values in recent decades, because in its name political, economic and social doctrines were implemented that led to inequality. It involves the idea of accumulation (of knowledge, of powers, of goods) as a form of gradual improvement of human societies.
- Personal fulfillment. It is a scale of success (professional, emotional, etc.) with which the community rates the unique performance of its individuals, allowing it to distinguish between role models and reprehensible ones. The problem is when their ways are unfair or unattainable.
- Beauty. Formal correlation, fairness and singularity are usually the components of beauty, a historical exchange value that concerns aesthetic discourses: art, fashion, the body image of the subjects.
- Company. As gregarious animals that we are, humans culturally value the presence of others, even if it implies conflict. Loneliness is usually linked to ascetic sacrifice or forms of social punishment, such as ostracism or jail.
- Justice. Equity, wisdom and justice are crucial precepts in the formation of human societies and the cornerstone of civilization. The creation of a common legislative regulation is established on a collective idea of what is fair and what is not (and thus avoid injustices).
- Truth. The fairness of ideas and things is called the truth, and it is a value universally held by human societies as a principle of negotiation between individuals.
- Resilience. It is the ability to draw strength from weakness, to convert defeats into growth and recover from blows: what does not kill you, makes you stronger.
- Equality. Along with freedom and fraternity, it is one of the three values promulgated during the French Revolution between 1789-1799, and establishes the same amount of opportunities for all men regardless of their origin, religion or sex.