folkways

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About encyclopedia.com content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

folkways A term associated with the work of William Graham Sumner, whose major contribution to sociology was his analysis of the nature, origins, and significance of folkways and mores. The former are group habits (or customs). In Sumner's view, societies develop (by trial and error) the particular ways of acting that are suited to their milieu; these ways of behaving are repeated and produce habits (in individuals) and customs (in groups); and these habits–or folkways–then become the commonly accepted ways of doing things in that society. Sumner is vague about the precise origins of folkways, and inconsistent in stating their relationship to mores, which are essentially folkways embodying moral imperatives about what is right and true. Sometimes the two terms are opposed, but occasionally folkways are deemed to include all commonly accepted ways of thinking, including mores (see Folkways, 1906
).