Mores Sociology Definition


Mores are the widely accepted and strictly enforced rules of behavior in any culture or group. These rules are more rigid and include basic behavioral patterns.

The word “mores,” coined by American sociologist William Graham Sumner, refers to social standards that are closely adhered to because they are crucial to preserving the group’s wellbeing.

The concept of morality and ethics, or mores, structures and constitutes good action and improper action. People have strong feelings about mores, and breaking them usually results in rejection or social isolation.

According to noted sociologists Robert Morrison MacIver and Charles H. Page, “When the folkways have added to them conceptions of group welfare, standards of right and wrong, they are converted into mores.”

Gillin and Gillin define mores as “customs and group routines which are thought by the members of the society to be necessary to the group’s continued existence.”

According to American Jewish anthropologist-linguist Edward Sapir, “The term “mores’ is best reserved for those customs which connote fairly strong feelings of the rightness or wrongness of mode of behavior.”

As stated by American sociologist and social psychologist Alex Inkeles mores are considered as “such customs which are not routinely followed, but are also surrounded by sentiments or values such that failure to follow the expected pattern would produce strong sanctions from one’s group.”

Paul B. Horton and Chester L. Hunt defined mores are “Strong ideas of right and wrong which require certain acts and forbid others. Mores are beliefs in the rightness or wrongness of acts.”

Characteristics of Mores

  1. From group to group, mores vary.
  2. People who share mores always see them as being correct.
  3. Sanctions from religion defend mores
  4. Mores have a relatively extensive lifespan.
  5. Most people agree that mores are ethically correct and that breaking them is immoral.
  6. Mores govern human social lives.
  7. Change is confronted with hostility from Mores.

Functions of Mores

The following are the roles that MacIver and Page have assigned to Mores.

A. Mores link the individual to the collective. Conformity to mores allows a person to identify with his fellows and sustain meaningful social connections for a happy life.

B. Most part of human behavior is influenced by mores. There is constant pressure on people’s behavior from mores as they shape human personalities and control individual inclinations. They serve as social control mechanisms. Numerous mores exist in society, including prohibition, democracy, anti-slavery, and monogamy, and adherence to them is essential.

C. Mores are the guardian of social solidarity and cohesion. They keep the group’s members together and help them become more unified.

Difference between folkways and mores


  1. Compared to mores, folkways are more open and all-encompassing in nature.
  2. Compared to mores, folkways are less ingrained in society and change more quickly.
  3. Folkways might vary depending on one’s social and professional level.
  4. Folkways are not punished when violated.


  1. Mores convey a judgment of the folkways’ value.
  2. Mores are firmly ingrained in society and undergo fewer changes.
  3. Since mores are norms of proper conduct that are comparatively constant and have consequences, they do not change that way.
  4. Compared to folkways, mores are more regulated and rigorous. As a result, they consistently shape and control personal inclinations in contrast to folkways.
  5. The breaking of mores is punished.


As they define what constitutes moral and ethical conduct and establish the line between good and evil, mores are stricter than folkways.

People have strong feelings about mores, and breaking them usually results in rejection or social isolation. As a result, mores exert a more coercive influence than folkways in influencing our values, beliefs, conduct, and relationships.

Mores are not consciously created, thought about, or developed by certain members of society. They gradually arise from the populace’s traditional activities, often without conscious thought or design.

They are frequently seen, believed to be fundamental to society’s basic ideals, and are of tremendous moral import. Their deviation is resentful to society since they are believed to preserve wellbeing and produce prosperity. Society is seen to weaken, and the social structures become unstable without them. They are more effective because they are more precisely articulated.

Even if mores are unwritten and informal, breaking them is punishable by a harsh penalty and may even result in banishment from society or religion. Such a transgression in civilization might take many forms, such as taking something from someone else or having a living together consensual relationship before getting married. Public discontent results from incidents when societal mores are broken. Since they are not technically recorded, the offender is often punished by the people.

Types of Mores

There are two different categories of mores: Positive mores and negative mores.

Positive Mores

Positive mores always “prescribe” appropriate behavior. They stand in for the “dos.” They provide individuals with direction and instructions so they may act in a specific manner.


Looking out for children, respecting seniors, caring for the sick and elderly, loving one’s nation, praising God, telling the truth, and living a good life,

Negative Mores

Behavior patterns are “prescribed” by negative mores. They stand in for the “don’ts.” Many people refer to them as “taboos.” Taboos restrict or disallow specific conduct patterns. Taboos severely limit the spectrum of acceptable behavior.


Do not lie, do not be irreligious, Do not act immorally toward your spouse and children, do not steal, and do not insult God are some examples of negative mores.


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