British society celebrates "all the wrong people", Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said.
Reflecting on background and causes of the summer riots, he complained the "celebrity culture" meant children took their role models from The X Factor and Premier League football.
In an interview with The Guardian, he said more needed to be made of people who had done well out of "serious hard work".
"If you look at the footballers, you look at our celebrity culture, we seem to be saying, 'This is the way you want to be'," he said.
"We seem to be a society that celebrates all the wrong people. Kids are meant to believe that their stepping stone to massive money is The X Factor.
"Luck is great, but most of life is hard work. We do not celebrate people who have made success out of serious hard work."
The Guardian reported that Mr Duncan Smith would call for private sector investment in work to prevent social breakdown.
He said that a "crowd mentality" had taken hold during the riots which meant that many of the perpetrators got "sucked in".
But he also pointed to a fundamental lack of balance in society that needed to be addressed in communities.
"Balance is if you try hard, you work hard, then the rewards are in balance with what you put in and what is available," Mr Duncan Smith said.