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coined 1907 in book of the same name by U.S. sociologist William Graham Sumner (1840-1910), who also is credited with ethnocentrism, found in the same book.
Folkways are habits of the individual and customs of the society which arise from efforts to satisfy needs. ... Then they become regulative for succeeding generations and take on the character of a social force. [Sumner, "Folkways"]
the learned behaviour, shared by a social group, that provides a traditional mode of conduct. According to the American sociologist William Graham Sumner, who coined the term, folkways are social conventions that are not considered to be of moral significance by members of the group (e.g., customary behaviour for use of the telephone). The folkways of groups, like the habits of individuals, originate in the frequent repetition of acts that prove successful for satisfying basic human needs. These acts become uniform and are widely accepted. Folkways operate primarily at an unconscious level and persist because they are expedient. They tend to group themselves around major social concerns, such as sex, forming social institutions (e.g., the family). Sumner believed that folkways from diverse areas of life tended to become consistent with each other, creating definite patterns