Folkways and mores are informal norms that dictate behavior; however, the violation of mores carries heavier consequences.
Differentiate between folkways and mores
Societal norms, or rules that are enforced by members of a community, can exist as both formal and informal rules of behavior. Informal norms can be divided into two distinct groups: folkways and mores.
Mores distinguish the difference between right and wrong, while folkways draw a line between right and rude. While folkways may raise an eyebrow if violated, mores dictate morality and come with heavy consequences.
A custom or belief common to members of a society or culture.
Different regions of the United States have different folkways that govern how people greet one another. In many rural regions, people crossing paths in the street nod and say "hello" or "how are you? " Drivers meeting one another on remote country roads give each other a quick wave. But in most urban regions, neither walkers nor drivers acknowledge one another unless provoked. Urban residents who travel to remote places may notice the difference and find the folkways unusual. The local residents may find the urban newcomers strange or a little cold if they do not offer greetings, but they will probably not sanction them formally or informally. Likewise, in the city, residents may think newcomers from the country a bit odd if they give unsolicited greetings, but those greetings will probably not draw sanctions.
Societal norms, or rules that are enforced by members of a community, can exist as both formal and informal rules of behavior. Informal norms can be divided into two distinct groups: folkways and mores. Folkways are informal rules and norms that, while not offensive to violate, are expected to be followed. Mores (pronounced more-rays) are also informal rules that are not written, but, when violated, result in severe punishments and social sanction upon the individuals, such as social and religious exclusions,.
William Graham Sumner , an early U.S. sociologist, recognized that some norms are more important to our lives than others. Sumner coined the term mores to refer to norms that are widely observed and have great moral significance. Mores are often seen as taboos; for example, most societies hold the more that adults not engage in sexual relations with children. Mores emphasize morality through right and wrong, and come with heavy consequences if violated.
Sumner also coined the term folkway to refer to norms for more routine or casual interaction. This includes ideas about appropriate greetings and proper dress in different situations. In comparison to the morality of mores, folkways dictate what could be considered either polite or rude behavior. Their violation does not invite any punishment or sanctions, but may come with reprimands or warnings.
An example to distinguish the two: a man who does not wear a tie to a formal dinner party may raise eyebrows for violating folkways; were he to arrive wearing only a tie, he would violate cultural mores and invite a more serious response.