Question Navjot Social Sciences

What are some examples of mores and taboo in Canadian society?

An example for mores and taboo in canadian society

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In sociological terms, the concept of ‘mores’ relates to social norms which are of significance to a particular culture; the concept, alongside its allied concept ‘folkways’ (meaning cultural customs, as in greetings or table manners) was introduced by American sociologist William Sumner in the early 1900s (Macionis and Gerber, 2013). Taboo refers to those behaviours which are abhorrent to a particular society, and which may attract the most extreme social sanctions, and in come cases, may invoke legal repercussion where the taboo broken is illegal within that society (Andersen and Taylor, 2012).

Canadian mores cluster around public spiritedness mixed with respect for individual freedoms and behaviour, and a sense of commitment to the public good (McCullough, 2016). Canadians are understood to be reserved and polite, and tend towards humility and respect for the rights of others to hold differing views on sensitive topics (McCullough, 2016).

Cultural taboos in Canadian society include the outward criticism of others’ privately-held opinions on divisive issues such as sexual conduct, religion, and politics. Violating others’ sense of privacy is a widely-held cultural concern (McCullough, 2016). Other problematic topics can be abortion, the status and historical treatment of aboriginal Canadians, and divisions between French- and English-speaking Canadian citizens, alongside related topics such as independence for French-dominated territories (McCullough, 2016). The maintenance of such taboos serves the social function of respecting privacy and the right to one’s own opinions without violating commonly-agreed mores of politeness, egalitarianism, and civility (McCullough, 2016).


Andersen, M.L. and Taylor, H.F. (2012) Sociology: the essentials. 7th edn. New York: Cengage Learning.

Macionis, J. and Gerber, L. (2013) Sociology. 8th edn. Ottawa: Prentice Hall.

McCullough, J. (2016) Canadian manners and etiquette. Available at: (Accessed: 15 July 2016).