Difference Between Folkways and Mores

In sociology, social norms play a vital role. Norms can govern the lives and guide the thoughts and beliefs of an individual, group of people, or community.


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Norms form the basis of the expectation of society from an individual. Norms can be further divided into folkways and mores.

Folkways vs Mores

The difference between Folkways and Mores is that Folkways is not compulsory or mandatory to be followed while Mores is compulsorily followed by an individual or a group of people. Folkways do not have serious repercussions an infringement while violation of mores is severely disapproved and is considered as a threat to the order of a society.

Folkways vs Mores

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Folkways can represent normal, customary, and habitual behavior. It creates a mark of expectation for how individuals should act and behave.

It is not inherent in an individual and is learned from the surrounding. Folkways can even promote the welfare of society. They are also considered ethical principles.

While mores can determine and evaluate between right and wrong. The conventions under mores can embody the fundamental values in a group. Personal values are the foundation for mores.

Individuals who violate social mores are considered and termed as social deviants. Mores are also considered as moral principles.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonFolkwaysMores
Year of origin Folkways was introduced in the year 1906 Mores was introduced in the year 1898
Moral significance No moral significance Morally significant
CoerciveLess coerciveMore coercive
Result of infringement Mild disapprovalSevere disapproval or even can lead to punishment
ExamplesAppropriate dressing at specific places, covering the mouth while sneezing or coughing, raising the hand to speak, not keeping the elbows on the table, brushing teeth, wearing perfumes, saying thank you and please in speech, and others It is not acceptable to drug abuse, high-speed driving near the residential area or school area. Cheating, deception, and fraud, bribery, cyberbullying, plagiarism, extortion, trespassing is not accepted

What is Folkways?

The various customs and conventions that are followed in daily life are referred to as folkways. Folkways are also considered a type of social norm.

It creates a mark of expectation for how individuals should act and behave. It is a learned behavior that can be a part of a group or a community.

Folkways have variations depending upon the culture and region. For example, the Bartering system can be a common culture for many but a new thing for the American people.

Folkways can also show variation depending upon the context or situation.

Like, talking loudly on the phone might not be an unusual thing in a public place like a park or road while in a church or a hospital it can be rude behavior.

The term folkways was coined by William Graham Sumner who was an American sociologist. He referred to folkways as customary behavior.

The sociologist believed that folkways from various areas of life can become consistent and hence create a definite pattern. They can even promote the welfare of society.

Folkways are widely accepted and become a uniform and satisfying human need. The group or individuals who follow folkways frequently repeat the set of acts.

Folkways are strengthened by habit, traditions, and sanctions. These factors make folkways compelling, arbitrary, and positive. Some even consider folkways as ethical principles.

What is Mores?

The social norms which are observed within a specific culture or society and usually include manner, habits, or customs are referred to as mores.

Mores of various nations can form the root of ethnic stereotypes. Mores are referred to as moral attitudes. The conventions under mores can embody the fundamental values in a group.

The term Mores was coined by William Graham Sumner who was an American sociologist. Mores can we typically considered as a strict version of folkways.

They can determine and evaluate right and wrong. Violation of mores can lead to disapproval or ostracizing.

Mores play a pivotal role in shaping believes, values, behavior, and interactions of an individual or a group, or a community.

Mores are considered as acceptable norms within a culture or society. It features the moral standpoint. It can even form the basis of various cultures.

Mores can even overlap with laws but not form the laws because they are mostly illegal. Personal values are the foundation for more.

The establishment of mores is from the practices of people or groups or a community. Not all mores need to be approved by every type of society or by all members of a group.

Examples of mores are stealing, lying, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, gossiping, jealousy, disrespect towards elders, various beliefs about marriage, breaking a promise, bullying, laughing at someone else’s misfortune, skipping a funeral, vandalism, cheating, deception, and fraud, bribery, cyberbullying, plagiarism, extortion, trespassing, and various such related norms.

Main Differences Between Folkways and Mores

  1. Folkways are considered as habits of individuals or a group while mores are considered as moral traditions or customs that are shared by a group.
  2. Folkways are social expectations that are mildly forced while mores are social expectations that are strictly held as beliefs.
  3. Folkways help in distinguishing between rude and proper behavior while Mores help in dictating between right and wrong.
  4. Folkways have no moral significance while mores are morally significant.
  5. Folkways are referred to as informal social conventions while mores are referred to as formal social conventions.
  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=lang_en&id=ljwrDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=folkways+and+mores&ots=FR2BrRyzKV&sig=o_vxYvKU9SN98kw5Dt9RrlbLAGs
  2. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781315135069-5/folkways-mores-william-graham-sumner
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