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What is tribalism? Analyzing this social phenomenon

What is tribalism? Analyzing this social phenomenon

April 29, 2024

Since the beginning of humanity, people have developed around the establishment of groups and societies. The reason is that in human nature there is the need to relate to others we consider equal, as well as the need to feel that we belong to a group that loves us.

In some of these premises the perspective of tribalism is based , a concept studied throughout the history of humanity and that, although in current Western cultures is not so common, there are still traces of tribalism in them.

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What is tribalism?

Tribalism is a concept in the field of anthropology that refers to a cultural phenomenon by which individuals create groups or organizations of a social nature with which to identify and reaffirm itself as part of something bigger.

Because it is a cultural phenomenon, tribalism tends to expand to cover virtually all areas of the person's life, exerting a bidirectional influence. That is to say, the person tries to leave a trace of their passage through the organization and, in turn, the organization itself exerts an influence on the person .

In some cases, this influence can reach a large number of aspects of the individual's life. Such as changes in behavior patterns, political, religious or moral thinking, as well as influence customs, fashions or ways of using language .

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Two related definitions

This concept encompasses two distinct but closely related definitions. On the one hand, we can understand tribalism as a social system by which humanity is divided into differentiated organizations and groups known as tribes.

To this day, the term tribe is attributed to those groups of people who share a series of common interests, habits, practices, traditions or a common ethnic origin . Throughout the world, there is an infinite number of these groups, all with traits and distinctive qualities.

The second meaning that gathers the term tribalism is that which refers to a strong sense of identity cultural or ethnic This feeling causes the person to define and differentiate from another member of a different tribe. In addition, it also includes the feelings that the person has towards his own group, as well as the satisfaction or pride of being in him.

It is very important to understand the differences between these two meanings of tribalism since, although tribal societies are hardly developed in the West, tribalism understood as the creation of groups of people with common tastes is fully extended.

Tribalism vs. individualism

In contrast to the idea of ​​tribalism we find individualism. These two anthropological perspectives are completely antagonistic , although both seek to understand the person and modern societies.

Unlike tribalism, individualism is committed to the independence and self-sufficiency of each and every person. Followers of this perspective encourage the realization of their own goals, as well as their own desires in isolation, based only on personal options and without any external influence or intervention.

Since it also forms a way of understanding society, individualism also supposes a way of understanding the whole of society, politics, morals or ideology, establishing the individual as the center of all of them.

Its main antagonistic perspectives are tribalism and collectivism , which defend a unity or association of people to achieve common goals. Although it is true that traditionally the human being has been considered as a gregarious animal, that is to say that it lives and develops in community. There is an extensive debate in the world of sociology and anthropology about which of the positions is more developed today.

While some experts argue that people tend increasingly to deindividualization and to life in a group or community, they also specify that these new forms of tribalism are very different from the traditional ones and that they develop over time and the transformation of societies.

On the other hand, those who maintain that individualism is currently increasingly widespread in developed countries, defend that Individuals and groups tend to individualization and isolation , as well as to decrease in feeling of collectivity or achievement of common objectives.

In the latter case, part of the anthropological community believes that the individualistic tendency that we experience today is in line with the development of narcissistic tendencies that seem to be on the rise today.

These narcissistic tendencies that promote individualism They are characterized by presenting the following patterns or elements:

  • Abandonment of the feeling of historical continuity and belonging to a global project.
  • Dominant tendency to live in the moment and live only for oneself, not for others or for the future.
  • Propensity to introspection and to the knowledge of oneself.

The emergence of urban tribes

The genesis and development of urban tribes is explicable within the theoretical framework that explains tribalism. The most common definition of urban tribe is one that defines it as groupings of people, usually of adolescent age, that follow common trends and practices or customs and that become visible by uniformity at the time of dressing or expressing .

The urban tribes are the expression in its maximum exponent of the current tribalism. These groups of people create a vision and image of the world around them, new forms of interaction with the environment and different ways of expressing themselves not only through language, but also through dress codes, symbols, music, literature or art .

The fact of belonging to an urban tribe gives the person the possibility of building an identity and developing a feeling of belonging to a related group. In addition, they are used as a means to distance themselves from the socially established, distance themselves from institutions and generate new societies or collectives.

The Social Brain: culture, change and evolution | Bret Weinstein (Full Video) (April 2024).

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