Norms, Values, Folkways and Mores

 Norms are expectations about appropriate

conduct which serve as common guidelines for social action.  A norm is a rule or pattern for action. Social norms are rules of conduct. They are the rules of behaviour that co-ordinate our interactions with others.  Norms are mental models or guidelines by which, ideally we control and evaluate our action and that of others.  Norms are enforced by positive and negative sanctions, which are rewards and punishments.

Norms maybe classified in terms of mores and folkways.  Mores are norms deemed highly necessary for the welfare of a society, violations can lead to severe punishment.  Folkways are norms governing everyday behaviour.

 Social norms are rules developed by

a group of people that specify how people must, should, may, should not, and must not behave in various situations. Some norms are defined by individual and societies as crucial to the society.  For example, all members of the group are required to wear clothing and to bury their dead. Such "musts" are often labeled "mores", a term coined by the American sociologist William Graham Sumner.

 Many

social norms are concerned with "should "; that is, there is some pressure on the individual to conform but there is some leeway permitted also. The 'should behaviours' are what Sumner called "folkways"; that is, conventional ways of doing things that are not defined as crucial to the survival of either the individual or the society.  The 'should behaviours' in our own society include the prescriptions that people's clothes should be clean, and that death should be recognized with public funerals. A complete list of the ‘should behaviours’ in a complex society would be virtually without end.

 Folkways are the recognised or accepted

ways of behaving in society. The concept “folkway” was given by W.G. Sumner. They include conventions, forms of etiquette, and the myriad modes of behaviour men have evolved and continue to evolve with which to go about the business of social living.  They developed out of experience and are handed down by tradition. Likewise such things as the number of meals per day, the modes of preparing food, the kinds of food chosen, the regular brushing of the teeth, the use of tables, chairs, beds, driving a car etc. are all folkways

 Those folkways that are repeated

often enough become habits— habits of thought as well as of action—and they come to form the unstated premises in our mental life.

Norms and values
 Norms are the guidelines which direct

conduct in particular situations for every culture.  A norm is a specific guide to action which defines acceptable and appropriate behaviour in particular situation.  They are enforced by positive and negative sanctions which may be formal or informal. The sanctions are mechanism of social control which is concerned with maintaining order in society.

 Norms maybe classified in terms of mores

and folkways.  Mores are norms deemed highly necessary for the welfare of a society, violations can lead to severe punishment.  Folkways are norms governing everyday behaviour.  Unlike norms, which provide specific directions for conduct, values provide guidelines that are more general.

 A value is a belief that something is good

and desirable. It defines what is important, worthwhile and worth striving for. Eg. It has often been suggested that individual achievement and materialism are important values in western industrial society.  Thus the individual believes it is important and desirable to come top of the class, to win a race or reach the top of his chosen profession.  Individual achievement is often symbolized and measured by the quality and quantity of material possession that a person can accumulate.

 Like norms, values vary from society to

society. For example, the Sioux Indians placed high value on generosity. Therefore, in their terms, the western society would be regarded as grasping, self-seeking and antisocial.  The values constitute an essential element of the concept of culture. The cultural groups are all above systems of values.  Values are the criteria or conceptions individuals use in evaluating things as to their relative desirability or merit.

 Social values are cultural standards that

indicate the general goods deemed desirable for organized social life.  Values are ideas about whether experiences are important or unimportant.  Values guide a person‟s judgements and behaviour. Values are an important part of every culture.

 Many norms can be seen as reflections of values.

A variety of norms can be seen as expression of a single value. In western society, the value placed on human life is expressed in terms of the following norms.  The norms associated with hygiene in the house and in public places reflect a concern for life.  The array of rules and regulations dealing with transport and behaviour on the highway are concerned with protecting life and limb.  The same applies to safety regulations in the workplace, particularly in mining and manufacturing industries. Thus the variety of norms concerned with the health and safety of members of society can be seen as expressions of the value placed on human life.

 Many sociologists maintain that shared

norms and values are essential for the operation of human society. Since man has no instincts, his behavior must be guided and regulated by norms. Unless norms are shared, members of society would be unable to cooperate or even comprehend the behavior of others.  Likewise, without shared values, members of society would be unlikely to cooperate and work together. Thus, an ordered and stable society requires shared norms and values.

 The folkways, therefore, are

unconscious, spontaneous, uncoordinated adjustments of man to his environment, the product of the ‘frequent repetition of petty acts, often by great numbers acting in concert, or at least acting in the same way when face to face with the same need. The mores, on the other hand, are the folkways considered as regulators of behaviour.

 They imply a value judgement about the

folkways, or as Sumner says, when the folkways „take on a philosophy of right living and a life policy of welfare, then they become mores‟.  W.G. Sumner defined mores as patterns of cultural and moral action which contributed to the continuity of the human group. Mores are traditional, prescriptive standards which maintain the social group by regulating individual behaviour‟.

 Folkways: Informal rules and norms

whose violation is not offensive, but expected to be followed. It's a kind of adjusting, accommodating type of habits. It does not invite any punishment or sanctions, but some reprimands or warnings.  Mores: They are also informal rules that are not written, but result in severe punishments and social sanction upon the individuals like social and religious exclusions.