A sense of belonging to the same culture can be broken down into more specific values and norms since, although we share many things with others in our society, not everyone has exactly the same values and norms.
Some groups of people share a particular way of life and we term these smaller groups subcultures. Although we will be looking in much more detail at the idea of subcultural groups, we can use the example of being part of a "College student subculture", to illustrate a couple of other sociological ideas.
Firstly, by becoming a College student you have chosen to join a particular subcultural group with its own particular "way of life" (attending classes, learning, meeting your friends, doodling aimlessly in class, etc.). However, just because you are part of this subculture doesn't mean that you cannot be part of other subcultural groups or, indeed, the culture of our society as a whole.
Secondly, we have started to introduce the idea that an individual's place in society can be looked at on two basic levels:
What it means to people, for example, to be English, French, American and so forth.
That is, the various groups we belong to involve particular sets of norms that apply only when we participate in these groups.
Every individual participates in numerous subcultural groups. The norms (and sometimes the values) that apply in one group may be different to the norms that apply in another (the norms that apply when you at home with your family may be very different to those that apply when you are out with your friends).
The problem, here, is that the potential for normative confusion is huge - and we have seen that the penalties for not behaving in accordance with social norms can be substantial. As people, therefore, we have to constantly consider how we can manage our lives to produce a sense of order and basic predictability. How, in short, do we establish a structure of rules governing behaviour that we can immediately recognise and conform to in a variety of different situations?
The answers to these questions can be found by introducing another important sociological idea, that of social roles.