Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The notion of “cultural values” brings together two powerful social science concepts to produce a concept that is seductive yet slippery and contentious. It is seductive in that it purports to explain or interpret human behavior, especially differences in behavior between groups, through an emphasis on how human lives are also differently valued moral lives. It accomplishes this through deploying the concept of value as that which makes people conceive of what is right, beautiful, and good and, hence, what is desirable. Thus, groups with behavioral differences are viewed as different because of differing values or cultural values. The concept of value becomes further sharpened by distinguishing the desirable from the desired; the former is based on a strong notion of moral justification, whereas the latter restrictively refers to nothing more than a preference. Such an emphasis on value as valuable for the understanding of social action assures a critical ...