Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Tribal Affiliations in Modern American Society
As the breakdown of social cohesion progresses, people become obsessed with creating, finding or allying themselves with new tribal groups. Thus there is a proliferation of symbolic items and signs to indicate the individual’s affiliation with particular aspects, objects, trends and prominent individuals in the popular culture.
As a strange result of attempting to be a unique individual, many Americans become a matrix of particular memberships and adopted symbols. These symbols are displayed consciously and unconsciously, from clothing to colored bracelets to bumper stickers. We declare our support of breast cancer research through a pink ribbon pin. Politicians declare their patriotism with flag pins on their lapels. Teenagers wear whatever clothing is in vogue among the peer group they wish to join.
Personal stylistic choices become a personal collection of identity signifiers, of tribal connections. Americans often shed childhood and family tribal affiliations to religion, class, ethnicity and others as they grow into maturity and independence from their parents.
Individuals will find ways to publicly declare their chosen tribal alliances, sometimes with great aggression.