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Elizabeth Soto

Ways of Knowing
Folkways and mores seem to share a lot of the same basics and understandings but both
differ from each other in specific ways. They're similar only because they relate to one another,
in my opinion mores seem to build off of folkways. Folkways spoke to me more in the sense that
they unconsciously became the basis of society and how human relations work. The article talks
a lot about how both folkways and mores were unconsciously produced and developed into
culture. The basic way of explaining that is that as there were numerous groups of people around
when people started to appear it was only natural for different groups to do different things. They
were much like babies and young children that anything new could make an imprint in their
minds. However how they grasped the new concept depended on them as a person and as a group
how would they perceive it. I do believe that a lot the perception would be due to superstition
and religion and spirits. The article talks a lot about how folkways are due to false interference.
For example, "On the Nicobar islands some natives who had just begun to make pottery dies.
The art was given up and never again attempted," (Sumner, 21.) In the rational mind of today I
don't think people would believe it was because doing pottery was out of the norm of the culture
that those people died. Lots of past culture died out because collective disease and everyone
would get sick. That's what present day logic tells us but back then everything seemed to depend
on religion and superstition so in that way I believe folkways were created. Folkways is that
open door to be able to relate odd events (such as dying right after taking up pottery) to God and

spirits and ghosts of ancestors. The way the past cultures looked at it was that the ancestors were
angry at them for differing from the cultural norm. And in this way this is how culture really
formed because one person from one cultural group didn't like something or preferred to do
something a certain way and taught the rest of the group in relation to how they completed that
task. In some ways this is amazing because this has brought out all the different variations of
culture and the art, cuisine, and beliefs that come out of them. But in other ways it's horrid
because this seems to be what started the intolerability of another person's culture. Everyone
likes to have that feeling of superiority and culture is something one can really grasp onto and
preach to someone how their culture is better than someone else's. Now mores are something that
I find fascinating. While folkways seem to be the foundation of a culture, the mores seem to be
the thing specifying how one should be living in that culture. Mores are basically the cultural
laws of the community. These are what define what you should and shouldn't do and what's
considered to be "right" and "wrong." Mores almost seem to be the root word or at least into the
relation of the word morals. Morals are the general idea of what is "right" and "wrong" so I
definitely think that could have stemmed from mores. "All are forced to conform, and the
folkways dominate the societal life. Then they seem true and right, and arise into mores as the
norm of welfare," (Sumner, 25.) I believe this quote really speaks to what I believe. That the
folkways are the dominant backbone to the culture and off of that is where mores are stemmed
from. For a more physical representation I look it as the folkways being the bones or the
framework of the body, the basis of the body. The mores are the muscles, organs, etc of the
body. The mores can promote a complicated system of laws and beliefs in such a way that a
body does with veins, ateries, etc.

Now I'm sure both of these things are present in my own life. All the beliefs I have
started with the general theme of "right" and "wrong" and they come from my parents or family
in general. Family is where you're going to learn your first and basic folkways. For example my
family beliefs in general that drugs are bad, smoking is bad, and that school is valued and
needed. I have no idea where these folkways started and why but I don't question it because I just
know that these are just things you abide by in my household. The mores or the morals that come
off of this for my personal self and how I perceive them is that drugs (any drug) is bad for you as
I've learned more drugs more or less can destroy ones life. This is the same thing with smoking.
Now for education, I've just always known my parents wanted me in school and to do well. The
morality behind that is that they wanted me to advance to this degree that I am now in college
and furthering my education and 'making something of myself' so to speak. The vast culture of
America in general values education and these days you can't really get a good paying job
without some type of higher education after high school. Going to college has become a cultural
norm amongst most of the world. No one knows who decided that but it was decided and
everyone abides by it and goes to school. When someone doesn't go to college, by choice and not
by financial standing, they are rather looked down upon and told that they are not going to do
anything with their life because they are not conforming to the cultural norm of going to college.