“Tribal” Disconnection

Considering the negative implications and connotations of tribes, it seems natural to consider a “tribe” to be a group of somehow connected people, with a shared goal or a shared interest or even just a shared geographical location. However, are some tribes defining themselves purely by not being something else, or by the feeling that they are connected merely by the fact that they are “insiders” with little else actually binding them? Is this kind of connection dangerous because its superficiality takes away from the deep, almost spiritual connections we assume tribes should have? Or is the very term “tribe” open to interpretation? Is the assumption that a tribe of “connected” individuals is a positive thing? Or is it in fact the case that any group which seeks to define itself or be defined as somehow “apart” from the rest of humanity is at base, a disconnecting, divisive and protectionist characterisation?

Negative tribal connections are obvious in the media manipulated masses, victims of tribal marketing, actors in mob culture, the fear of loss within nationalism, and the general idea of “us” versus “them”.
The media constructed manipulation and creation of what could be considered a negative tribe can be seen in mainstream right-wing attitudes towards refugees in modern western society (Majavu). The only things that connect are a self-defined nationalism, a feeling of “us” and “them”, and perhaps a subconscious mistrust for “outsiders”. These constructs are false; they are created by media to divide, and subsequently to conquer. A tribe of “us” naturally wants to protect itself from an influx of “them”. A connected humanity is a powerful, non-manipulable humanity. The more divided we are by perceived superficial connections, the more vulnerable we are. In a weakened, divided state humans are ripe for conflict. The creation of negative tribes serves only to divide an already fragmented society.

Falsely created, manufactured tribes constructed at great expense by the marketing world rely heavily on the idea that the created connection is more important than the marketed thing itself. The power of a tribal brand should not be underestimated. The tribe is considered capable of collective action, and as such can be a valuable social and economic stimulus, which is invaluable for money-hungry business. A group of consumers driven by a shared belief which connects them becomes a more complex tribe, where perceived membership of the tribe drives members to promote the brand and its ethos, but more importantly, members actually believe in what they are promoting. This taps into the human need to belong, to feel connected; if people feel like they are an important part of something, or worse, that they are on the outside and are somehow missing out then they are much more susceptible to this kind of manipulation through marketing. Again the weakened, divided human is the malleable human.

Mob or crowd culture could easily be linked to the ability of tribal marketing to manipulate human behaviour. There is little question that people act differently when they are part of a group, so much so that perceptions of personal responsibility are greatly reduced if a person behaves as a deindividuated actor. Are tribes and the notion of them actually disconnecting us from each other as humans? The more “tribes” we feel we belong to the more ways we are able to be divided. The examples here seem to suggest that humans are becoming a group of powerless disconnected tribes instead of an interconnected web of supportive and mutually understanding beings. Membership of a tribe seems to mean the natural shunning of those outside, to see them as somehow “other”. What connects us within a tribe also divides us with those on the outside. The examples explored here suggest that connection is what humanity needs, and that “tribes” are in fact divisive.



Majavu, Mandisi. “Bad News For Refugees. By Greg Philo, Emma Briant and Pauline Donald.” Journal of Refugee Studies 27.2 (2014): 309–310. jrs.oxfordjournals.org. Web.

Cova, Bernard. “What Postmodernism Means to Marketing Managers.” European Management Journal 14.5 (1996): 494–499. www.sciencedirect.com. Web.

“Crowd Psychology.” Wikipedia 26 Nov. 2016. Wikipedia. Web. 6 Dec. 2016.

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