Cultural Mores: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Are Cultural Mores?
  • 2:22 How Are Mores Established?
  • 3:34 More Examples of…
  • 4:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karin Gonzalez

Karin has taught middle and high school Health and has a master's degree in social work.

Every culture has rules that demonstrate what is right and what is wrong. Learn about cultural mores, how they differ from folkways and taboos, and how they are established through the use of examples in this lesson.

What Are Cultural Mores?

Lynn discovers that her husband, Tom, has been having an extramarital affair for the past six months. Shocked and angry, Lynn leaves with the children. Devastated, Tom attempts to elicit emotional support from his own family. Yet when Tom's family hears about the affair, they too are angry with Tom. After all, Tom has broken the sacred more of marital fidelity.

A cultural more is one of four types of cultural norms. A norm is a rule that a culture or society follows which guides how people behave and interact with each other. In sociology, there are four different types of norms: folkways, mores, taboos, and laws. A cultural more is a norm or rule that is guided by standards of morality within that culture, and has consequences if not followed. Although every culture does not share the same exact mores, indiscretions such as wearing a bikini to temple or church, lying, watching pornography, racial discrimination, and marital affairs are considered violations of mores in many societies and cultures.

For instance, in the 1890 novel The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prinn was forced to wear a letter A on her clothing for committing adultery. Another example involves discrimination and hatred against other races, which is considered a violation of the more of racial equality and tolerance in Western society. You might be wondering how mores are different from folkways and taboos. Well, while a folkway is a rule that distinguishes between what is right and rude, such as it being the right thing to do to chew food with your mouth closed or raise your hand in class instead of shouting out, a more is a more serious cultural standard of behavior that distinguishes between what is wrong/immoral and right/moral.

While breaking mores can lead to disapproval or being rejected from family members, social gatherings, or religious institutions, they sometimes don't have legal consequences. Taboos, on the other hand, are norms that are serious offenses like rape, sexual abuse, murder, and incest. A society views breaking taboos with disgust and condemnation. Taboos will always merit legal consequences, like being required to serve a jail sentence.

How Are Mores Established?

Often, mores are rooted in religious doctrines that guide a society. In the United States, the Christian and Jewish religions are the most prominent, so the Bible and Torah have influenced many of the country's mores. For example, one of the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20:14 prohibits adultery, or sexual relations outside of a marriage. In this way, religious doctrines have helped form the cultural more in the U.S.A. of marriage fidelity and loyalty.

Yet, sometimes mores do not have a religious origin. Sometimes morals and mores are developed from an innate human sense of what is right versus what is wrong. Let's take the example of human equality and human rights. In modern times, most people strongly believe in Western cultures that slavery is wrong, and that no person should be the property of another person. The more of human, including racial and gender, equality doesn't have religious roots. In fact, some religious doctrines actually promote slavery.

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