Back to the root

Michel Maffesoli is the godfather of ‘neo-tribes’, and he describes the new world of tribalism in his book ‘The Time of the Tribes’ in 1996. On one hand there is social dissolution and extreme individualism, and on the other end people are embarking on a reverse movement to recompose their social universe. Instead of up-rooting people are re-rooting through tribes, and in doing so they rely less on previous structures, such as institutions, and class. To put it short – the world has changed.

Cova, also French, wrote a series of articles in which he described tribes as being small scale, and unstable – held together by a common passion or emotion. He says that people value goods for their ability to link them to others. It’s the link and not the things which are important.

How neo-tribes differ from traditional tribes

The traditional tribe is bound by geography and kin-ship. It also has a historical tradition. However the neo-tribe is not bound by geography, and only exists for the duration of it’s rituals. It does not rely on historical tradition, as it comes into being as the occasion arises.

How neo-tribes differ from subcultures

There are crucial differences between neo-tribes and subcultures. In a subculture identity is unified and fixed. It is seen as static, as members permanently carry one mask. However nowadays people belong to many tribes, and move effortlessly between them. They switch masks, as they assume temporary roles and identities.

Companies that plan to participate in social media can benefit from the concept of tribes, as it helps to explain why people are coming together – regardless of social class, age and gender – to share a common passion or emotion.After all you have to know the rules of a game, before coming a team player.