Difference between Ideal and Real Culture
An Ideal Culture is the high standards, ethics, and values that society considers supreme and aspires to adopt or claims to profess. In other words, it is an idealized value system of society that guides perfect behavior by individuals.
On the other hand, a real culture is the ethics, norms, and values that the society actually observes or follows.
For example, lying is immoral and unethical. So, ideal culture dictates everyone to always be truthful. The whole society idealizes this aspect. But in reality, in the real culture, people lie every now and then to gain maximum benefit.
Ideal culture is idealistic, not realistic, as it does not exist anywhere in the world. In every society, some aspects of the real culture tend to deviate from those standards and values of the ideal culture.
In short, there is always a difference or a gap between society’s ideal culture and its real culture.
Take another example. Every society professes to hold the principles of equality and justice for every individual or member of the society. But in the real culture, there is great discrimination in the society. Individuals are treated and discriminated against on the basis of their social status. There is a wide gap and division between rich and poor.
Similarly, other contrasting aspects of the two cultures are; rule of law vs lawlessness, meritocracy vs corruption, equality vs discrimination, traffic rules vs traffic chaos, equal employment opportunities for all vs widespread unemployment and poverty, congruence vs gap between the material and non-material culture, etc.
Bridging the Gap between Ideal and Real Culture
A man can never be perfect. He is selfish and self-centered by nature. As society consists of men; naturally it can never be perfect too. Although people idealize the principles of high moral and ethical values and standards, yet their own self centric nature overshadows it. Given this bitter reality, society can hardly achieve its ideal culture.
However, being social scientists, we can suggest some ways to bridge the gap between the two varying cultures.
Society can utilize institutions of socialization to attain ideal culture. As people learn through socialization, the institutions of socialization like educational institutes, media, etc. can play a major role in molding the individuals of a society.
These social institutions can teach people what is ethical, valuable, and desirable. People could learn values, ethics, norms, mores, folkways, etc. in congruence to the desired culture of the society through these institutions.
Furthermore, the role of government and policymakers would also be very helpful in this regard. The application of sanctions through laws and regulations can prevent people from deviating from the idealized culture.