We saw earlier that all human societies have certain problems that have to be solved if life is to be maintained. There are a variety of ways, as I have suggested, that people can decide to solve these problems and the choices we make concerning such solutions are based on what sociologists call values.
At their most straightforward, values involve beliefs that we hold about what is important, both to us and to society as a whole. A value, therefore, is a belief (right or wrong) about the way something should (or should not) be. In this respect, it should be apparent that values, by definition, always involve judgements (since, by expressing a value we are, as I've just noted, saying how we believe something should or should not be).
As you will be aware, some values are very personal to us as individuals, while other values are widely-held by large groups of people. In this case, values become morals - beliefs that we consider to be of such absolute and fundamental importance that we believe everyone should hold such ideas as a personal value. A good example of a moral value in our society might be the idea that "It is wrong to kill another human being".
The concept of values fits into the overall idea of social structure we have been pursuing in this section in the sense that, because values are highly-prescriptive (they represent definite judgements that one thing is right and all alternatives are wrong, for example), they provide us with a set of behavioural guidelines. If, for example, we believe people should not steal from each other then it's highly unlikely we would indulge in such behaviour.