Ideal Culture: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:04 Thinking About Ideal Culture
  • 1:13 Ideal vs. Real Culture
  • 2:22 Examples
  • 3:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

In this lesson, we will discuss the concept of ideal culture. We will define ideal culture, learn how ideal culture differs from real culture, and see examples of ideal culture in American society.

Thinking About Ideal Culture

Lily is a 15-year-old girl. Her family is very religious and attends church twice a week. Lily has been taught many moral lessons by her parents. One of them is that lying and cheating are immoral under all circumstances. Lily has lived most of her life being as honest as she can. However, she has told a few white lies on occasion.

One week, Lily forgets to complete her homework assignment. When it's time to hand it in, Lily tells her teacher that she left her assignment at home and she'll turn it in tomorrow. Lily's teacher gives her an extension. Lily stays up all night completing her homework assignment and turns it in on the following day. Though Lily knows she told her teacher a lie, she reasons that she did eventually complete the assignment and no one was hurt, so the lie was okay.

Even after this incident, however, if you asked Lily what her views are on lying and cheating, she would tell you that you should never lie or cheat under any circumstances. She would still hold her ideal values about culture, despite what actions she performed in reality. Lily's tale is a great example of ideal culture vs. real culture.

Ideal vs. Real Culture

Culture refers to the values, norms, and beliefs that a society holds. It also consists of things that are tangible, like buildings and artifacts, and things that are intangible, like fables and myths. The two types of culture we are going to cover here include ideal and real culture.

Ideal culture refers to the values, norms, and beliefs that a society desires to achieve. It consists of those ideals that people would like to attain as a society. Lily's ideal culture consists of never lying or cheating. However, in certain cases Lily does in fact lie and cheat, even though she finds it immoral to do so. This is where real culture comes into play.

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