Folkways (sociology)

Folkways (sociology)

Folkways are the patterns of conventional behavior in a society, norms that apply to everyday matters. They are the conventions and habits learned from childhood.

Famed American sociologist, William Graham Sumner, is credited with coining the term "folkways" in his monumental work entitled "Folkways: A Study of the Sociological Importance of Manners, Customs, Mores, and Morals" in 1907. [David Hackett Fischer, "Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America," (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 7.]

They are one of three types of norms, the others being mores and taboos, mores are much more strictly enforced than folkways. Generally conformity to folkways is ensured by gentle social pressure and imitation. Breaking or questioning a folkway does not cause severe punishment, but may cause the person to be laughed at, frowned upon, or scolded. In western culture, folkways include (but are not limited to) respecting the privacy of strangers and eating food with the proper utensil.


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