coined 1906 in a book of the same name by U.S. sociologist William Graham Sumner (1840-1910); see folk (n.) + way (n.). Sumner also often is credited with ethnocentrism, which is found in the same book but is older (see ethnocentric).
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"]