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Definition: Materialism has two meanings in sociology. On the one hand it refers to a cultural value placed on the accumulation of material possessions, a process in which people base their sense of themselves, their well-being, and social standing on possession. On the other hand, it refers to an approach to understanding social life that rests on the idea that production and reproduction are fundamental social processes that greatly influence, if not determine, the basic character of social systems and the patterns of life associated with them.