What are Folkways ?

What are social norms ?

Social norms refer to the group shared standards of behaviour .It is a pattern setting limits on individual behaviour .
Norms are said to be ” blueprints ” for behaviour .
They determine , guide , and control human behaviour .
Norms are not systematically classified by Sociologists . But they are grouped into –
” Folkways “, “mores ” , “fashions “, “rites “, “ceremonies “, “customs ” etc. .

What are folkways ?

In general , folkways means “ the ways of folk “.
The term ‘folk’ represents people and ‘ways’ represent their behavioural habits .
Folkways are the customary, normal and habitual ways of the group to meet certain needs or solving day-to-day problems.

The term folkways was introduced into Sociology literature by W.G .Summer in a book with the title , ” Folkways: A Study of the Sociological Importance of Usages, Manners, Customs, Mores, and Morals ” published in 1906.

Folkways are accepted ways of behaviour.
According to Summer ,
” folkways represent man’s unique means of adapting himself to the environment .

Examples of Folkways :-

The ways of eating , talking , dressing , playing , walking , working , greeting , conversing ,etc. represent folkways .

The daily activities become an individual’s habits ,but folkways are termed as habits of a group though Not all (group) habits become general. They differ from individual to individual and place to place.

Folkways are a learned process of socialisation. They become the second nature of the individual.

Habits are socially approved habits which are followed by a number of persons in a society are referred as folkways,

Habits of exchanging greetings and courtesies like bidding ‘Namaste’ with joined palms is an.examples of Indian folkways .

Walking on right side if the road , taking three meals a day , Wearing different clothes at different occasions, showing respects to elders , love and affection to younger ones ,
Wearing a cap, hat or turban,.shaking hands, eating with forks and knives, driving on the left or right hand side of the street, attending classes in paints and skirts rather than gowns or bathing suits etc..are some folkways followed by difficult individuals.

Definitions :-

Folkways are behavioural patterns of e everyday life which generally arise unconsciously in s group .”
-.Gillin and Gillin

According to Reuter and Hart (1933),
“The folkways are simple habits of action common to the members of the group; they are the ways of the folks that are somewhat standardised and have some degree of traditional sanction for their persistence”.

Maclver and Page (1949) defined it as:
“Folkways are the recognized or accepted ways of behaving in society.”

A.W. Green opines ,
Those ways of acting that are common to a society or a group and that are handed down from one generation to the next are known as folkways .

Lundberg stated ,
“. Folkways are the typical or habitual beliefs , attitudes and styles of conduct observed within a group or community .”

In simple words , folkways are “repetitive petty acts of the people .”

Characteristics of Folkways

• Social in Nature :- Folkways are the products of man’s group life . They are created by the groups for their sustenance and maintenance . Individuals get social recognition by comforting the folkways .

Repetitive in Character:– A social practice becomes a folkway when the majority of people observe it constantly and regularly . The often repeated practices of the majority normally become the folkways . These practices become standardized practices by constant repetitions .

Unplanned Origin :– The origins of Folkways are very obscure . Summer believed that they arise automatically and unconsciously . They are not the result of any advance planning . Someone in the group starts a new way and in course of time it becomes popular and a good number of people may start following it but by the time it becomes folkways the origin trace fades away.

Informal Enforcement :– Folkways constitute one of the types of informal means of social control . Folkways are not as compulsive and obligatory as that of laws or morals . Conformity to the folkways is neither required by law nor enforced by any special agency of society. They are not absolutely obligatory though they are considered as necessary .

Folkways Differ a Lot :- Folkways Differ from group to group and society to society . They may also undergo changes in course of time within the same group or society .
For example , table meals are common in the West whereas the majority of Indians used to squat on the floor and take their meals with their hands .

Folkways vary with age and sex in almost all places . They even vary according to social status , religion , ethnic groups , racial groups etc .

Folkways are Numerous :- It is not possible for anyone to enlist all the folkways . There are so diverse and numerous folkways . They range from most trivial acts and behaviour patterns to the most serious ones .

Folkways are subject to Change :- Just like everything folkways are also subject to change . Folkways change according to changes in social conditions .
Summer is referred to as ” fashion ” .
Fashion related to dress , hairstyle , architecture designs , etc. undergo rapid changes .

Social importance of Folkways

The folkways are the foundation of every culture . They give us a better understanding about a particular culture.
When fully assimilated they become personal habits .

Summer believed , ” the life of society consists in making folkways and applying in them . The science of society must be construed as the study of them .

Folkways have become a universal characteristic of human societies. No society does or could exist without them . Hence they constitute an important part of the social structure . They are most powerful and control the behaviour of individuals in society even more than the state action.

They become a part and parcel of the personality of the infant through the process of socialisation. An individual learns different folkways at different stages of socialisation . They become a form of unstated premises of our mental life .

Folkways play a major part in social control in society, as folkways are informal means of social control.

Hence , folkways are not compulsory or obligatory but constitute an important part of social structure as they become personal habits that contribute stability and order in social relations .

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