Sociology Index


The use of the term tribalism must be understood against the assumption that citizens of the modern world would develop significant identification only with large groupings which included a plurality of social categories. Tribalism is used to describe those situations where broad social identification has broken down so that people identify themselves exclusively with a narrower category. For example, people may organize their lives around ethnic identification or sexual preference or religious belief. This retribalization of the society is thought to lead to fragmentation and divisiveness as people identify with an in-group, making a shared sense of citizenship among larger groupings more and more fragile.

Tribalism, Nationalism, Rank-Equilibration, and Social Structure 
A Theoretical Interpretation of Some Socio-political Processes in Southern Nigeria 
Ulf Himmelstrand, University of Ibadan; presently University of Uppsala, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 6, No. 2, (1969).

Some aspects of Nigerian nationalism, particularly as espoused by the Ibo elite in the struggle for Nigerian independence and immediately after, are here interpreted as an alternative or supplementary response to the same kinds of structural strains which have gener ated impulses to so-called tribalism. Rank-equilibration theory is utilized to provide the necessary causal links. Further discussed are a number of attendant micro- and macro-circumstances which might explain why rank-equili bration sometimes stimulates tribalism and secessionism, at other times seems to increase the appeals of a broader nationalism. 

Tribalism and Religious Identity in the Work of Richard Wright 
Sylvester Johnson, Assistant Professor of Religion, Religion Department, Florida A&M University,
Literature and Theology 2006 20(2):171-188;
Richard Wright is familiar to many as a literary author whose work portrayed race and adversity in America. Examining a less familiar theme in Wright's work, this article examines Wright's use of the concept of tribalism. It argues that Wright employed this problematic metaphor in his fiction and non-fiction in order to depict American revivalism.

The Political Economy of Tribalism in North America: Neotribal Capitalism? 
Ingo W. Schroder, Philipps University, Marburg, Germany,
Anthropological Theory, Vol. 3, No. 4, 435-456 (2003)
In her analysis of Maori tribalism, Rata argues for a view of modern tribes as organizations of capitalist accumulation that are legitimized through a ‘neotraditionalist’ ideology that recreate present-day class relations in precolonial terms. Despite some differences in the historical development of tribes, this model proves useful for the analysis of the political economy of US American Indian identity. Since the late 19th century, tribes have been dominated by new economic and bureaucratic elites that control access to tribal revenues. The discourse on ‘tradition’ and ‘cultural preservation’ has become the latest currency of representing tribal social relations to the American state and legitimizing the political status quo before the local population.

Tribalism, Nationalism, and Pan-Africanism - William R. Bascom, Berkeley, California 
The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
Tribalism, no longer an obstacle to self-govern ment in Africa, is still an obstacle to national unity. In Ghana, national solidarity has been built by eliminating effective opposition. In the Congo, tribalism has produced conflict and violence. In Nigeria, a middle course of federation has been pursued. Balkanized by rival European powers in the past, African boundary lines impose artificial divisions on already complex patterns of tribal and subtribal groupings. In some instances, tribal ties have been successfully exploited to develop a sense of national identification. Growing nationalism, however, may become a future obstacle to broader African identification.

Nationalism or 'Tribalism': The Evolution of Cape Afrikaner Ethnic Consciousness in the Late Nineteenth Century
Mottie Tamarkin, Department of History Tel Aviv University - Nations and Nationalism.
Abstract: This article seeks to explore the evolution of the ethnic consciousness of the Afrikaners in the Cape Colony at an initial and crucial stage. The colonial Cape Afrikaners are treated as a core community, distinguished from Afrikaner communities in other states in South Africa. It is argued that their collective consciousness was shaped primarily by their core colonial experience rather than by their ethnocultural commonality with the other diaspora Afrikaner communities.

Relating Global Tensions: Modern Tribalism and Postmodern Nationalism - James P.
Source: Communal/Plural: Journal of Transnational & Cross-Cultural Studies, Volume 9, Number 1, 1 April 2001, pp. 11-31(21)
Abstract: What is the relationship in the contemporary world between the abstract global peace of state-initiated violence from above and the embodied violence of persons hacking into others with machetes as they lay on the ground? Can this be explained simply in terms of the difference between the rationalising modern nation-state and resurgent tribalism? This article explores the contradictions associated with peace and violence in a globalising - localising world, both generally and in relation to violence in Rwanda and Bosnia-Kosovo. The article is intended predominantly as a political essay opening up lines of understanding. It argues that the postmodernists hopes that postnationalism will offer a way out of the mess is thoroughly misplaced.

Wrestling with Japanese Tribalism Emerging Collaborative Opportunities For India and Japan - Lambert, Bruce Henry
Abstract: Japanese firms, with their strong technology base and high domestic factor costs, have the potential of teaming with India, with its more basic infrastructure and eight times the population. Japan's poorly-performing excess capital could fuel India's strongly-developing middle class and robust entrepreneurialism. Especially promising are collaborative information technology projects. What stands in the way of a greatly expanded relationship? Much of the blockage stems from Japan's insularism, an impetus here labeled tribalism. A hopeful dimension is that this tribalism can be clearly defined as archaic, recognized as detrimental, and then toned-down.

Tribalism: First Things First - By Jeff Ballabon 
In today's world, largely as a result of Judaism-Christianity-Islam-Enlightenment, we tend to overlook the real tectonic plates along which human conflicts erupt: tribes. Tribalism - simple, instinctual, unintellectual, amoral tribalism - is a far more potent force than any of the big unifying universalist ideas to which we generally attribute the great victories and tragedies of civilized humanity.

Jeux De Masques: Postmodern Tribalism - Michel Maffesoli, Charles R. Foulkes
Design Issues, Vol. 4, No. 1/2, Designing the Immaterial Society (1988), pp. 141-151

Tribalism & Racism among the Ancient Greeks - A Weberian Perspective
By Michael Bakaoukas, Ptychion (Phil.), M.Sc. (Phil.), Doctorate (Phil.), The University of Piraeus, Greece
Abstract: Were the ancients Greeks racists in the modern sense of the term racist? The terms ancient Greek proto-racism, tribalism are used here to denote the abstract, narcissistic notion that not only the non-Greek barbarians, but also certain ancient Greek tribes (like the Macedonians, the Boeoteans etc.) should be excluded from the Hellenic community, for they were considered to be inferior compared with the general Hellenic civilization. The present paper analyses comparatively the social phenomena of ancient Greek tribalism and modern racism in order to answer the following question: what distinguishes the ancient Greek racism from the modern one?

After postmodernism : Reactionary tribalism - ANTONIO Robert J. University of Kansas, ETATS-UNIS
This essay links reactionary tribalism to a recurrent 20th-century theoretical tendency, the total critique of modernity-a fusion of oversimplified Nietzschean and Weberian ideas.

Modern Tribalism and Postmodern Nationalism.