Space Of Values As Factor For Well-Being Of Society


The article deals with the problem of values in the modern society and their influence on the well-being of a person. The problem is acute from the point of view of value crisis and breaking the system of ideals. Nowadays, people are trying to find new ideals and orientations for human existence. The ideal of the "consuming society", which puts material well-being and availability of various things on the first place, is not acceptable now. The authors intend to suggest another ideal, which can be named the ideal of a versatile and intellectual personality with high moral principles. It should be pointed out that the problem of differentiation between real ideals and idols is actual and complex. It depends on values, which are subjective and are influenced by many circumstances, including our understanding of the good. It should be outlined that the importance of economic and material conditions for human prosperity cannot be argued, but it is necessary to take into consideration the fact that it is possible to exaggerate this factor, when the goods are understood only as a relationship of selling, buying and cost. Thus, the notion “well-being” is much broader than such understanding. The authors of the article argue that universals contain the values created by the person, which are positive from all points of view. Therefore, these values develop a person; they lead to the development of humane and creative ideals.

Keywords: Well-beinggoodvaluescultureidealcultural universals


Well-being is often understood as receiving material goods from the state, charities and other structures. External well-being develops from the perspective of perception and one's evaluation of human society (Alatartseva, & Barysheva, 2015). What seems to be well-being to some people is not at all the same to others. It is all about values that are objective and subjective and depend on many circumstances, including our understanding of the good. The notions of “well-being”, on both a personal and social level, as well as that of a “welfare society” are the subject of important deliberation as part of the same economic theory (Nanni, 2016).

The increased interest in the problems of values appears in the period of value crises and breaking the existing system, when people are looking for new foundations and orientations for human existence. The ideal of the so-called "consuming society" puts material prosperity and availability of various things on the first place. Such ideal is out of fashion nowadays. People try to turn away from this one-sided approach by bringing up the ideal of a versatile and intellectual personality with high moral principles. They also try to overcome the tendency to false “idols”. According to the literature, well-being is a multidimensional and subjective concept, it is related to happiness but it does not depend on mere economic welfare. In fact, the bond between material wealth and well-being is not causal: GDP is not the optimum way of assessing the level of well-being (Pandolfini, Cia, Sbardella, Simonetta, & Toschi, 2016). In an increasingly constrained financial climate, discussions have intensified about the need to effectively demonstrate cultural value (Scott, Rowe, & Pollock, 2018).

Problem Statement

The ideal is a necessary norm, a model for behaviour; it influences human values greatly. The ideal of spiritually developed, intellectual and moral personality can be a person’s guide. But ideals are opposed by "idols", i.e. false values, which can destroy a person if he/she goes for them recklessly. Unfortunately, they always go together, any cultural era has its own ideals and "idols" (Ilenkov, 2006). To solve this problem, people should actualize human values that form the base for culture; they should look for the ideals that raise a person above false “idols”.

Research Questions

Every month, sociologists publish data on how much money the family would like to earn a month for a prosperous life. But is it possible to judge man’s goods only on the basis of these data? Values depend not only on objective factors, but also on the mentality of “the psychic being assessing these values”, i.e. on the man (Rikkert, 1995). Values are objective and subjective in their existence, so they can be classified according to different factors. For example, if the values depend on objective factors, they belong to a cultural era (Antiquity, Renaissance, Enlightenment, etc.). According to the national characteristics of communities, age, gender, and so on, we can also speak about different values.

Purpose of the Study

Dependence of values on the subject brings the problem of teaching values. There are values that destroy a personality (drug-addiction, alcohol-addiction, excessive accumulation of goods and others). Are there any criteria to classify values as "negative" or "positive"? In our opinion, a person (his development, improvement) can be such criterion. We use here the same principle, which was proclaimed in Antiquity - "a man is a measure for all things."

Thus, in this article, we study space of values as a factor for the well-being of the society; we deal with ideals, and oppose them to idols Just society is a society which doesn’t thrust on its members certain values, aims and demands, but it creates a possibility for them to follow their aims on condition that they come to an agreement with everyone. That’s why principles which regulate liberal society do not assume the definite conception of welfare, they rest on right (Kornienko & Syryamkina, 2015).

Research Methods

In everyday speech, the word "well-being" often refers to the level of material security, social and personal well-being. It means a quiet, secured life without any failures, shocks and deviations from the average norm (to live like everybody or better). There are two key concepts in the word "well-being": “Good” and “Receive” (Philosophic Encyclopedic Dictionary, 1983). “Good” is one of the key concepts of philosophy (Selivanov, 2008). The question "What is good?" has been answered in different ways. Plato linked the word “good” with something spiritual or godlike. He considered it to be the synonym to the words “beautiful”, “love”. These three were in the same row for him. Aristotle’s attitude to goods was different. He believed that goods were corporal, external and spiritual. In his "Ethics" the thinker and philosopher observed that everyone agreed only with the name of the concept “good”, but as for its content people understood it differently (Aristotle, 384 BC). Leibniz defined “good” as what contributes to perfection. D. Locke connected “good” with a civil society, with such qualities as life, freedom, body health, lack of physical suffering, etc.

There always have been hedonistic studies about the good, which defend the thesis that good is the pursuit of pleasure. Such concepts, which appeared in the ancient ethics, were actualized in the second half of the 20th century. It was connected with the concept of "a consuming society" (Bell, 1999). In contrast to them, we can speak about ascetic concepts that consider good to be a refusal of pleasure. One of the brightest representatives of the cynics, Diogenes of Sinope, became a source for myths, because he was satisfied with his life in a "barrel", and his only request was "not to block him from the sun." It was his well-being. The studies in the sphere of well-being prove that not only in myths and philosophy, but also at the level of modern everyday consciousness, it is possible to notice that understanding of good and its perception are different (Selivanov, 2008). People call good different things: from a book and a treadmill, a computer and a walk in the woods to a theatre and high salary… Such different interpretations of good, as well as its perception, are connected with the fact that human values differ. Values are an important element of any culture; it is the first and most important difference between a person and other worlds, between a person and the nature. "In all cultural phenomena, we will always find the embodiment of a value recognized by a person for which these phenomena are either created, or, if they have already existed before, cherished by a man ... They are called goods (Rikkert, 1995).

Each culture has its own value system. Being the components of a personal structure, values determine the human ideology. A society is a system where values define the principles and the structure of any organization and allow it to function better. E. Durkheim writes that a society is the creator and repository of all values. In any society there are very different, sometimes contradictory ideas about values. Nevertheless, all of them are the components of a personality structure and determine a person’s mentality (Durkheim, 1991). A certain structure of values reflects the purpose and direction of a society, creates its internal core (Ilenkov, 2006).

It is logical to consider and analyze the concept "values" in the context of the study of socio-cultural space. Socio-cultural space, in its turn, is an interdisciplinary notion, so there are different approaches to its interpretation. One of them is understanding socio-cultural space as “conditions and forms of the activity of a social object of education” (Zykov, 2001). We can also find another interpretation: “Space is a social sphere of a society, the repository of cultural processes. The socio-cultural space is multidimensional, dynamic and has its own shape. It is a multilayer; there are qualitative differences of culture on different layers. However, a socio-cultural space is a single entity, the constituent parts of which are united by common values” (Valkovskaya, 1999).

There are several approaches to classifying values. Universal values are values that coincide both in content and in character. In sociology and philosophy, the concept "value" is determined as an important feature for a person that characterizes the essence of any object. In their turn, values "are interpreted as formed by culture invariants of a social life that make possible to connect different times (past, present, future); to systematize the space of human life, making all its elements significant; to set system priorities, ways of social recognition, assessment criteria; to build complex and multilevel systems of orientation in the world, to justify meanings" (Rikkert, 1995).

The nature of values is fickle. Values can change in the course of activities. Taking into consideration what was written above, we can say that the notion "space of values" should be incorporated into the notion "socio-cultural space", since the latter is a broader notion. Thus, taking the above concepts as a basis, we want to present the authors’ definition of the notion “space of values”. The space of values is a multidimensional, mobile, dynamically developing in time formation of the social and cultural sphere. It is reflected and embodied at the level of values and value orientations of individuals, social groups and civilizations.


We should study the concept "space of values" further concerning the so called virtual environment of human interaction, paying special attention to the information and telecommunication space. Its distinctive features are ephemeral nature of geographical boundaries, blurred national identity of the objects and anonymity of access to the virtual sources. Its database and content is the global Internet network, which unites billions of people. In the near future, the vast majority of the Earth population will have permanent access to the world web (Cultural Studies, 1997). Therefore, we can talk about the space of values that are formed and transformed in the information and telecommunication space. The study should be continued. "Each sphere of man’s cultural activity possesses immanent value dimension: values of material life, economy, social order, politics, morality, art, science, religion are quite autonomous. However, each type of culture is associated with hierarchy and the interdependence of value spheres" (Cultural Studies, 1997). At the end of the 20th century technical gadgets began to influence culture (Lotman, 2001). Modern culture is certainly a culture of media space. Sociocultural "redefining" of everyday life and its transformation take place under the influence of the visual context, the dominance of visual images that do not exist outside their media. Accessibility to visual media space is becoming a good for a modern man (Drozdova, 2018). But cannot this dependence on the media be another "idol" with the help of which a modern man hopes to get prosperity?

A person is brought up and his preferences are influenced through teaching ideals. Let’s turn to the definition of the notion “Ideal”. In our opinion, ideal is a generalized idea of perfection in various spheres of life; it is a norm and orientation that is set by culture. In the Dictionary of cultural studies we find the following definition: "Ideal is a perfect image of a thing projected by the subjects of communication; this image is endowed with value measurement of universality and absolute features... Ideal is a future projection through which we judge the present and the future" (Cultural Studies, 1997). Scientists have been looking for the universal foundation of the surrounding us reality for a long time. In their search they have turned to religion and philosophy, natural sciences and humanities. Since the times of Plato, the problem of universals has been dealt with through solving such issues as the basis of real life, the way of existence of the ideal, the ratio of thinking and reality, as well as the relationship between individual, special and general. In the 20th century, the term “universal” was also used in the sociocultural context to refer to the qualities inherent in the cultures of all peoples, irrespective of the geographical location, historical time and other differences. Nowadays the concept "universal" is used for the analysis of both ideal and real cultural phenomena. This term is also often used to describe contemporary processes of globalization and is understood in the context of "universal – local". The terms "categories of culture" and "universals of culture" are often understood as synonyms. A new philosophical aspect of the term “universal” also appeared. It is believed that universals reflect the image of a person typical for a specific culture, a person who has the definite idea about his place in the world, social relations and spiritual life (Stepin, 2011). Philosophical universals determine the way of thinking, understanding and experiencing the world. That’s why many scientists use the concepts "categories of culture", "universals of culture", "philosophical universals" as identical and interchangeable.

According to the philosophical approach, a human being is understood in the light of a person’s attitudes to the world. The first attitude is to the nature and the artificial environment created by a man, where a human lives; the second attitude is to other people, to social groups; to the ideal world in which both individual experience of a person, and historical experience of generations accumulate. These attitudes give us an opportunity to classify cultural universals. The attitude of a man to the nature implies the satisfaction of his physiological needs. This attitude is expressed in universals that define the rules of hygiene, sexual relations, cooking, daily habits and so on. The attitude of a person to the society is expressed through universals that reflect the institution of the family, property, religious rituals, sports, joint work, dancing, education, funeral rituals, hospitality, games, language and others. The attitude to spiritual values is expressed by such universals as the good, the evil, the national idea, beautiful, ugly.


The system of universals of culture is not closed, during human activities some universals disappear, others appear. These processes depend on the emergence of new activities, man’s adaptation to the reality. Both cyclicity and bifurcation are observed in the evolution of universals. At the same time the system of universals has an orderly nature, and there are "eternal", permanent universals expressing the basic needs of a man. "A set" of certain universals can tell us about the degree of culture and society development (Zakharova & Kononova, 2015).

Changes in a society are associated with the processes of increasing adaptation to nature and differentiation of institutions and structures. The universals are conditioned by social processes consistently appearing during the development of complex societies. It does not depend on their cultural peculiarities and a variety of external conditions. Four of these evolutionary universals are present in all known societies: the system of communication; the system of kinship; a certain form of religion; and technology. The further development of societies is associated with the gradual emergence of new evolutionary formations, each of which contributes to the adaptive capacity of the system. The degree of evolutionary universals development indicates the level of adaptive capacity of a society, and the emergence of each universal increases its ability to monitor the environment and to mobilize the resources for adaptation or active impact on it. Besides, their presence contributes to the internal stabilization of a society.

The distinctive feature of the processes of social change and adaptation to the nature and differentiation of institutions and structures is a social tendency to harmony, solidarity, stability, but not to hostility and confrontation. This is the meaning of culture and its universals, which are considered to be constant qualities. The good can also be attributed to the universals of culture. It is associated with all three types of the relationship of a man: man and nature, man and society, man and spiritual values.

To sum up, during our research we have made the following conclusions. First of all, we cannot argue the importance of economic and material conditions for human prosperity. Secondly, it is necessary to take into consideration the fact that it is possible to exaggerate this factor, when the goods are understood only as a relationship of selling, buying and cost. We should note that the notion “prosperity” is much broader than such understanding. The last point we should mention here is that universals contain positive sense of culture, i.e. the values created by the person. These values develop a person; they lead to the development of humane and creative ideals.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


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17 December 2018

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Kononova, T., Zakharova, L., Lazareva, O., & Goreva, O. (2018). Space Of Values As Factor For Well-Being Of Society. In I. B. Ardashkin, B. Vladimir Iosifovich, & N. V. Martyushev (Eds.), Research Paradigms Transformation in Social Sciences, vol 50. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 688-694). Future Academy.