Mores (// sometimes //; from Latin mōrēs, [ˈmoːreːs], plural form of singular mōs, meaning 'manner, custom, usage, or habit') are social norms that are widely observed within a particular society or culture. Mores determine what is considered morally acceptable or unacceptable within any given culture.
William Graham Sumner (1840–1910), an early U.S. sociologist, introduced both the terms "mores" (1898) and "folkways" (1906) into modern sociology.[need quotation to verify][need quotation to verify]
The English word morality comes from the same Latin root "mōrēs", as does the English noun moral. However, mores do not, as is commonly supposed, necessarily carry connotations of morality. Rather, morality can be seen as a subset of mores, held to be of central importance in view of their content, and often formalized in some kind of moral code.
The Greek terms equivalent to Latin mores are ethos (ἔθος, ἦθος, 'character') or nomos (νόμος, 'law'). As with the relation of mores to morality, ethos is the basis of the term ethics, while nomos gives the suffix -onomy, as in astronomy.
The meaning of all these terms extend to all customs of proper behavior in a given society, both religious and profane, from more trivial conventional aspects of custom, etiquette or politeness—"folkways" enforced by gentle social pressure, but going beyond mere "folkways" or conventions in including moral codes and notions of justice—down to strict taboos, behavior that is unthinkable within the society in question, very commonly including incest and murder, but also the commitment of outrages specific to the individual society such as blasphemy. Such religious or sacral customs may vary. Some examples include funerary services, matrimonial services; circumcision and covering of the hair in Judaism, Christian ten commandments, New Commandment and the sacraments or for example baptism, and Protestant work ethic, Shahada, prayer, alms, the fast and the pilgrimage as well as modesty in Islam, and religious diet.
While cultural universals are by definition part of the mores of every society (hence also called "empty universals"), the customary norms specific to a given society are a defining aspect of the cultural identity of an ethnicity or a nation. Coping with the differences between two sets of cultural conventions is a question of intercultural competence.
Differences in the mores of various nations are at the root of ethnic stereotype, or in the case of reflection upon one's own mores, autostereotypes.
The customary norms in a given society may include indigenous land rights[dubious ], honour, filial piety, customary law and the customary international law that affects countries who may not have codified their customary norms. Land rights of indigenous peoples is under customary land tenure, its a system of arrangement in-line with customs and norms. This is the case in colonies. An example of a norm is an culture of honor exists in some societies, where the family is viewed as the main source of honor and the conduct of family members reflects upon their family honor. For instance some writers say in Rome to have a honorable stance, to be equals with someone, existed for those who are most similar to one another (family and friends) this could be due to the competing for public recognition and therefore for personal and public honor, over rhetoric, sport, war, wealth and virtue. To protrude, stand out, be recognized and demonstrate this "A Roman could win such a “competition” by pointing to past evidences of their honor" and "Or, a critic might be refuted by one’s performance in a fresh showdown in which one’s bona fides could be plainly demonstrated." Honor culture only can exist if the society has for males the shared code, a standard to uphold, guidelines and rules to follow, do not want to break those rules and how to interact successfully and to engage, this exists within a "closed" community of equals. Filial piety is ethics towards ones family, as Fung Yu-lan states "the ideological basis for traditional [Chinese] society" and according to Confucious repay a burden debt back to ones parents or caregiver but its also traditional in another sense so as to fulfill an obligation to ones own ancestors, also to modern scholars it suggests extends a attitude of respect to superiors also, who are deserving to have that respect.
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Rome was thus not only an honor culture, but a contest culture... Romans competed both with the living and the dead. They strove to not only live up to the good name of their ancestors, but to surpass them in glory. And while we moderns think it gauche to compete with one’s family and friends, the Romans thought these peers made the best fellow competitors, for they were equals with whom one shared the most in common... Romans competed over who was most skilled and excellent in rhetoric, in sports, in war, in wealth, and in virtue — particularly the defining quality of manhood: courage... The Roman legionary strove not only for personal honor, but for public recognition; ancient Rome offered many different awards and commendations, and soldiers competed strenuously for them all.
A Roman could win such a “competition” by pointing to past evidences of their honor; this was a culture in which politicians shamed political opponents or bolstered the credibility of their own arguments by tearing open their tunic to reveal scars earned in defense of the republic. Or, a critic might be refuted by one’s performance in a fresh showdown in which one’s bona fides could be plainly demonstrated.
An honor culture can only function in a society in which there is a shared code - clear rules, standards and expectations for interaction and engagement - and within a closed community of equals.