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Graham Sumner

William Graham Sumner, one of the early teachers of sociology in the United States, elaborated the concept of social norms through one of his books entitled Folkways (1906). He categorized the norms of a society into three: folkways, mores and laws. He described the term folkways as the custom of a society or a culture. Folkways are said to be the habits that are parts of a society’s everyday routine; simple norms which imply the uniqueness of a certain culture or society. They may also be the simplest “standard operating procedure” that every member of the particular group conforms to.

Conforming to them may guarantee harmony, otherwise, though not punished severely, and may become the subject of ridicule. They are simple conventions that every member of a culture or society begins to learn during childhood. Examples of this social norm are proper dress code, table manners, and salutations. Next, mores are intense norms, which are more significant than folkways. They take the form of a commandment, or taboo; that if violated can bring severe punishments. A good example of these is the term Sin among Catholics.

A sin violates the rules of the Church, and committing it may bring disgust from other members, in addition ensuring the promise of eternal punishment in a place called Hell. Mores constitutes the moral code of an individual within the group, thus the concept of morality come in the picture. Last, the laws are social norms in a society, group, or culture, which are composed by the ruling authorities within. To ensure that everything is under control, authorities maintain and enforce these laws. Laws vary from culture to culture, society-to-society, country to country, depending on the cultural background of such.

What can be legal to one country may be illegal or prohibited in the other. Violations on these laws are punished and/ or subjected to public humiliation.

Bibliography “William Graham Sumner”. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/William_Graham_Sumner. html (Retrieved May 16, 2007). “Folkways”. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Folkways_%28sociology%29 (Retrieved May 16, 2007). “Mores”. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Mores. html (Retrieved May 16, 2007) Sumner, W. G. “Social Norms” http://www. bolender. com/Sociological%20Theory/ Sumner,%20William%20Graham/sumner,_william_graham. htm (retrieved May 16, 2007)

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