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. See folk (n.) + way (n.).
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"]