This article concerns the sociological concept of neotribalism and not the reemergence of ethnic identities that followed the end of the Cold War.

Neotribalism (AKA Neo-Tribalism and modern tribalism) is a sociological concept which postulates that human beings have evolved to live in tribal society, as opposed to mass society, and thus will naturally form social networks constituting new "tribes".

Sociological theory

The first to use the term "Neo-Tribe" and organize a successful group by that name was probably Billy Shurtz in Tempe Arizona. (MA, Brigham Young University, PhD., Arizona State University) His concept was we are genetically programmed, through natural selection, to live as group mammals (Think tribal.) According to Shurtz, we live in small caring groups for millions of years, for most of our existence as humans, right up until the last moments of history when a series of events in the explosive rise of our brief civilization wipes out the human primal pattern leaving us living a fake, superficial, isolated and lonely existence which does not fit our nature and does not work. And thus, human behavior in the modern World, genetically programmed to function in small caring tribal groups, does not work. Thus, in order to make our behavior, relationships, family, child development, teen development, female nature, our communities, our government, work, we must return to the small, loving caring groups we evolved to live in. According to Shurtz, even the psychology we use for guidance is fake and incomplete and does not work because it leaves out an entire essential function of human behavior. Thus in order to be healthy and happy and make human behavior work again, we need to return to the pattern which fits our nature, the small, loving, caring group. Hence, the Neo-Tribe. Shurtz is presently writing a book, "Return to Paradise," which will be out soon.

French sociologist Michel Maffesoli was perhaps the first to use the term neotribalism in a scholarly context.[1] Maffesoli predicted that as the culture and institutions of modernism declined, societies would embrace nostalgia and look to the organizational principles of the distant past for guidance, and that therefore the post-modern era would be the era of neotribalism.

Work by researchers such as American political scientist Robert D. Putnam and a 2006 study by McPherson, Smith-Lovin and Brasiers published in the American Sociological Review[2] seem to support at least the more moderate neotribalist arguments. Data has pointed to a general breakdown in the social structure of modern civilization due to more frequent moves for economic reasons, longer commutes and a lack of emphasis in the media narrative on the desirability of strong friendships and community bonds.

See also


  1. Maffesoli, Michel (1996). The Time of the Tribes: The Decline of Individualism in Mass Society. London: Sage.
  2. McPherson, M.; Smith-Lovin, L.; Brashears, M. E. (2006). Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades. American Sociological Review. pp. 353–75.
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