Online College Courses for Credit

3 Tutorials that teach Real and Ideal Culture
Take your pick:
Real and Ideal Culture

Real and Ideal Culture

Author: Zach Lamb

Differentiate between the concepts of real culture and ideal culture.

See More

Source: Intro Music by Mark Hannan; Public Domain

Video Transcription

Download PDF

Hello and welcome to Sociological Studies. As always, thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to study society. The topic of today's lesson is ideal vs real culture. The ideal image that a society has of itself, that society strives for, might not always be the real ground-level case of what's actually happening. So Ideal Culture then, every values of the culture a society aspires to hold. And real culture and what people actually really do in a society or culture. And these can align. They can be the same, but often the ideal image is more rosy, more glowing, and it's different than the real culture, what actually happened.

So for instance Americans have prided themselves on their superiority dating back to our origins we have the narrative of American Exceptionalism. It goes that we're different from Europe. We're special. And then later on this got transformed into, We are the Global Superpower and the best place to live on Earth. So this is America's ideal image of itself, but in reality, when you look at the ground, we've got a lagging education system, massive inequality, and problems with poverty, loads of gun violence, millions of uninsured Americans without health care, and a lack of good, stable, high paying jobs.

America hasn't figured out how to survive in the new economy yet, as well as some of their European peers. So this is the real representation of America. It's not exactly the ideal version of American Exceptionalism that we like to pride ourselves on. And now for just a more simple example, Americans claim to value marriage. Yet marriage in this country is going down. Divorce rate is extremely high. A lot of people are choosing to live alone, to never marry. So we see then how the ideal culture of a society is not always the same as the real culture. Well I hope you enjoyed this brief discussion of Ideal and Real Culture. Thank you very much for joining me, and have a great rest of your day.

Terms to Know
Ideal Culture

The cultural values and positive self-images to which a society aspires.

Real Culture

What people really do on the ground level in society, and what cultural patterns people really have.