As already mentioned culture is a complete whole of patterns of behaviour learnt by a society and standardized, approved and recognized. By repeated process of trial and error and learning, the society sets up expected patterns of behaviour. The expected patterns of behaviour are known as norms. A cultural norm is a concept of what is expected to exist or to take place as human behaviour. It is a set of behavioural expectation and consists of standardized expected ways of felling and acting. The cultural norms are generally derived from the previous generation from the way in which things were done for the good and convenience of the society. When culture is transferred from one generation to another, the norms are included in it. The past generation leaves behind the norms which regard to modes of worship, modes of eating, modes of marriage, etc. The next generation introduces fresh changes and the norms are also changed. A social norm is a type of social behaviour that is valued by the society as appropriate and befitting. A departure from this accepted and valued types of behaviour is socially condemned.
Norms are classified as folkways and mores. Folkways are the customary habitual ways of doing things by society or community. Folkways are norms which are generally practiced but at the same time there is no harm experienced by anybody in the society by these habits or customs not being observed or practiced. For example, greeting one another, wearing a turban. Folkways are so much of a habit that people observe them very often without even knowing the purpose. Folkways help special interaction and give a social psychological satisfaction to individuals when they interact with one another because they are group habits.
Mores are also norms but they are rigid norms and are meant to be followed by individuals for a specific advantage for the society. Mores refer to inflexible standard or ideas of right or wrong which require certain acts to be done and forbid others. They are vitally important to the society from an ethical and moral point of view. What is harmful to the society like for example crime and antisocial acts are mores which are forbidden. Charity and kind acts are mores that are encouraged because they have a positive ethical value.
Assimilation is another term used in sociology which denotes the process whereby a group, generally a minority or immigrant group is through contract absorbed into the culture of another group or groups. It amounts to the integration of one of the cultural traits into another. The smaller group gets assimilated into the bigger group and becomes a part of it. This is a part and parcel of the larger group ultimately with regard to its cultural traits and patterns of behaviour, etc.
Perception is need based. It arises out of past experience and is directed towards future aspirations. Things that matter to an individual or to the group get special significance. In life, we look upon things with relative grades of importance depending on how much they are useful to us or otherwise. At different times and in different situations things have different meaning and significance to us. This applies to ideas, beliefs, objects, persons, living beings and any thing in the world. Every individual places or gives a relative worth to everything around. This worth or preference or judgment or weight age is known as value. A value has been defined as a belief upon which a man acts by preference. It is cognition, a motor, and above all a deeply appropriate disposition.
Value refers not only to the importance given by the mind to a particular thing, the formulations within the mind of the ought and should standards which influence action. Value, therefore, has a strong influence on all actions and behaviour of every man. Value helps individuals and groups to make choices or alternatives for action. Value guides human behaviour.
Values like attitudes can be expressed and put into action. Values therefore can be elicited by questioning or by informing from the behaviour.
As already mentioned values are not stationery or constant change according to the need occurring at different times and situations. Values are learnt and are very much like selective perception. A nice book has no value to an illiterate or to an infant or to a blind person. Value refers to material and non-material. Certain customs and religious beliefs, superstitions, sacred sentiments, etc., have low ethical values. The values that have advantage for the self or for the society are known as positive value. And the value that is harmful and disadvantageous is negative values.
Values are also used with reference to material possessions. We think of the value of children, greater value of male child in the Indian context. The preceptor or teacher has a high value in almost any society. The possession of animals also connotes values. For example, possession of elephant, cattle, fowl, pet animals, etc.
Beliefs like values have an influence on behaviour and attitudes Perception also enables individual and groups to form a certain impression or understanding about objects, persons, events, etc. What the mind continues to think or know about a particular thing or event or a person, etc., becomes a belief. The dictionary meaning of belief is trust or confidence or something regarded by a person as truth. It also refers to a firm conviction or considered opinion or faith in the truth of religious doctines. Beliefs can be defined as a continuing permanent perception about anything in the individual world. Belief is a social product of individual perception as well as group experience. Each society forms and establishes beliefs on all aspects of life. The belief can be tested and if it proves otherwise it will have to be given up. But most of the beliefs are so deep rooted and traditional that the society does not try to question the validity of the belief.
Belief can be true and false. True beliefs would have been verified at some time or the other and those beliefs coincide with reality and can be experienced. False beliefs have no baiss and cannot be verified but they persist in society because of the group support. It may be appreciated that belief is a cognitive phenomenon and therefore gives rise to subjective facts for every individual and for the groups.
. Before science could unravel many things people used to believe in a number of phenomena which had not been tested out or logically proved. In ancient mythology we had a belief that the lunar and solar eclipses were due to a temporary devouring of the moon and sun by demons. Science has later established the causation of eclipse by physics. The belief that smallpox was due to Goddess Mariammal or Mariammal's wrath has now been dispelled after the discovery of the smallpox virus. There are many beliefs with regard to causation of leprosy. Such beliefs have led to different customs in earlier generations to seek relief from such diseases. Treatment by specific medicines was not resorted to because of the wrong beliefs prevailing