Difference Between Mores and Laws

Mores vs Laws

Mores and laws have to be understood as two different types of norms that exist in the society where the legal power is at the core of the difference between both, mores and laws. As we all know, in every society there is a culture that dominates the lives of people. It is this culture that binds the people together and develops social cohesion. When speaking of culture, there are various elements such as traditions, customs, music, dances, histories, norms, etc. that create and nurture a particular culture. When speaking of mores and laws specifically, these have to be viewed as two types of norms or else standard practices in a society. Mores are customs or else conventions. However, laws are not merely conventions but have a legal body. This is the main difference between laws and mores. Through this article let us examine the differences between the two categories; mores and laws.

What are Mores?

As mentioned above mores are a subcategory of norms. These are usually a variety of norms that are governed by morality. Mores are viewed as customs or else conventions as well. In every society, there are behaviors that are considered as right and others that are considered as wrong. These are usually guided by one’s sense of morality. Mores explain which type of behavior is acceptable and correct in a society and which type of behavior is unacceptable.

Mostly mores are influenced by religions. However, mores are not universal. Depending on the context and also period, mores can change. For instance, let us take the idea of promiscuity. In the modern world, this if frowned upon. But, sometime back in ancient days, this was considered as normal. Unlike mores that are completely governed by morality, laws are a bit different in its nature.

Difference Between Mores and Laws

Eating decently is one of the mores

What are Laws?

A law can be defined as a rule or a system of rules established by authority. Laws are also considered as a subcategory of norms but are quite different to mores. The function of a law is to secure social order in a particular context. Laws assist the ruling party to maintain justice in the society. In some situations, mores influence laws to be created. For instance, stealing from others is considered as morally incorrect. This later on transforms itself into a law, where the individual is punished for his behavior.

In mores, the individual usually does not get punished by the society, even though, the society may not accept the behavior but, in the case of laws, there is a specific punishment. Also, unlike mores that become a part of the individual through the socialization process as the child learns to acquire and make mores a part of him. Laws, on the other hand, operate differently. They are much more external to the individual than mores, which are more internal. These are the main differences between mores and laws.

 Mores vs Laws

What is the difference between Mores and Laws?

• Definitions of Mores and Laws:

• Mores refer to a type of norms that are governed by morality.

• A law can be defined as a rule or a system of rules established by authority.

• Connection to Norms:

• Mores and laws are two subcategories of norms.

• Governing Body:

• Mores are governed by morality.

• Laws are governed by a legal body.

• Nature:

• Mores can differ based on one’s context.

• Laws are mostly universal.

• Going Against:

• Going against mores brings only societal disapproval.

• Going against the law can bring about punishments.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Eating via Pixabay (Public Domain)
  2. United States Code law books by Tony Webster (CC BY-SA 3.0)