The origins of the theory of values in sociology and directions of its development

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Since the first stages in the development of society and its scientific models, the term ‘value’ has become a center of theoretical and applied concepts. On the one hand, in everyday life, we all understand the importance of value diversity; however, on the other hand, it is not clear how this diversity can be combined with the social order. The article presents an attempt to identify those interdisciplinary origins of the theory of values that are the most significant for the conceptual definition of ‘value’ and for the empirical study of the value system of the contemporary society in sociology. The author identifies two conditional trends in the development of the theory of values, which are fundamentally important for sociology: the first trend is presented by the development of a kind of axiological concept which was originally purely philosophical. As a rule, the origins of this trend are found in the works of I. Kant (morality as duty, its relationship with freedom and natural aspirations, objective goals, absolute values, etc.), since all subsequent philosophical interpretations of values either followed or criticized his transcendental approach. Thus, representatives of neo-Kantianism focused on such concepts as ‘revaluation of values’, ‘value devaluation’, ‘imaginary values’ and ‘guiding cultural values’, ‘values and estimates’. The origins of the classical sociological theories of values are found in the works of E. Durkheim: he believed that values formed a kind of objective reality on which social harmony can and should be based; therefore, the main social phenomena (religion, morality, law, economics, aesthetics) are systems of (very different) values, or social ideals. The evolution of sociological interpretations of values was determined by the gradual departure from purely theoretical concepts to generalized methodological models, which allowed to describe the role of values in the institutionalized performance of the functions of preserving and reproducing a cultural model, and then to empirical-instrumental models based on the terms ‘value orientations’ and ‘social attitudes’. Thus, the second conditional trend in the development of the theory of values in sociology is determined by the introduction of methods for the empirical study of value diversity in the historical and comparative perspectives.

About the authors

A. S. Ryndina

RUDN University

Author for correspondence.

аспирантка кафедры социологии

Miklukho-Maklaya St., 6, Moscow, 117198, Russia


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