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The Time of the Tribes
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The Time of the Tribes
The Decline of Individualism in Mass Society

First Edition


February 1996 | 192 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Do individuals construct their own identities in contemporary consumer culture? In this volume, one of the world's leading sociologists questions the idea that individualism is a defining feature of modernity. The Time of Tribes presents a new, truly sociological theory of modern identity. Author Michel Maffesoli contends that the insistence on the end of collective ideals conceals a complex state of affairs. He brilliantly demonstrates that while the old determinants of identity such as class have indeed faded, there are new tribal determinants. He shows how contemporary identities are now composed of a multiplicity of experiences, representations, and everyday emotions. Sexual, political, or professional identities are being replaced by processes of identification with groups, with sentiments, and with fashions. He shows how tribal groupings--musical, sporting, or touristic--emerge in the midst of mass society and goes on to explore the possible reasons for this new social dynamic from the rise of new communication technologies to the resurgence of older values such as religious identification. This unique book is essential reading for advanced students in social theory, culture studies, and sociology.

Rob Shields
Foreword
Masses or Tribes

 
 
By Way of Introduction
 
The Emotional Community
Research Arguments

 
 
The Underground Puissance
 
Sociality vs the Social
 
Tribalism
 
Polyculturalism
 
Of Proxemics
 
Appendix: The Thinking of the Public Square

`An adventurous and stimulating discussion. Essential reading' - Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

`This book is not a piece of conventional social science, and it should not be judged against standard criteria. It is less a theoretical introduction than a pamphlet. This is not to minimise its role, for pamphlets have an important function in political and public discourse: they thematise problems, they exaggerate and they focus attention on repressed or latent knowledge.... Social scientists should read the book because it presses them to think about the alternative between tribalism and argumentative discourse and to make a choice' - Klaus Eder, Work, Employment & Society

`A very welcome and entirely original addition to this literature. Maffesoli's at times frustrating, at times brilliant essay... I recommend his discussion of tribes and tribalism highly. The book will be an important starting point for any discussion of modern communities' - Sociology

`In this ambitious and provocative book, Maffesoli explores the persistence and the centrality of an affective, solidary space of sociality that emerges from the small-group contexts of everyday life... this is a book that should provoke challenging and fruitful questions for those studying civil society, community, religion, or the "new social movements"' - American Journal of Society

`An adventurous and stimulating discussion. Essential reading' - Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

`In Maffesoli we encounter a social theorist pre-occupied with the emergence of new tribes and the need for a sociology of everyday life with explanatory purchase in the late twentieth century. In the rise fo a plethora of elective affinity groups (his tribes) he foreshadows the end of both the state and the individual as new communities are established within the interstices of complex societies. To any one with an interest in re-positioning anarchism with in the context of debates about postmodernity this is essential reading.... the work takes the form of an open essay which is accessible and immensely thought-provoking.... For any one attempting to understand and assess the significance of diverse groups from new militias in the USA to environmental movements and consumer cultures this is a vital book' - Anarchist Studies

`This book is not a piece of conventional social science, and it should not be judged against standard criteria. It is less a theoretical introduction than a pamphlet. This is not to minimise its role, for pamphlets have an important function in political and public discourse: they thematise problems, they exaggerate and they focus attention on repressed or latent knowledge.... Social scientists should read the book because it presses them to think about the alternative between tribalism and argumentative discourse and to make a choice' - Klaus Eder, Work, Employment & Society

`This text should be received as not so much setting an agenda as opening up an arena of research. Not only does Maffesoli's work take us to the heart of ethics within social life, but reveals insights into what we currently only know as a horror which pushes us away and discourages analysis by placing a barrier of unspeakable emotion over the processes of development and implementation of late twentieth century atrocities and genocide in the name of a society-level phenomenon which appears very similar to the micro-scale of tribus. Maffesoli's work undertakes a critique of academicism and dogma within sociology.... Maffesoli's work will appear to the English reader as highly academic... At first its pretension excludes and intimidates, but this breaks down very quickly into the warmth of a shared vision, for this is truly an intimate sociology' - Rob Shields (from the foreword)

`According to Maffesoli, the ambience of the postmodern era, its underlying paradox, is built upon the fundamental tension between massification and "groupism". The break-up of mass culture has led to the development of fragmentized "little masses"; Maffesoli agrees that social existence is indeed alienated, subject to the penetrations of a multiform power; nevertheless, he argues eloquently that there are still remains an affirmative puissance that, despite everything, confirms the `ever-renewed game of solidarity and reciprocity'. Maffesloi's book is one of the most important contributions to the discourse of cultural sociology to come on the scene' - Acta Sociologica

`The French version of this book is considered to be a classic of its genre, so it can be questioned why the English version had to be waited on for so long. Maffesoli's discourse fits in the late 1980s contestations of modernity, which is now in a way old news. Still, his contribution deserves acknowledgment, as he not only uses but also develops further the theories and concepts of Schmalenbach, Weber, Goffman, Durkheim, Bergson and others to arrive at a theory of his own that is full of new ideas for reaching a theoretical and practical understanding of life in contemporary societies, a life which no longer can be captured in concepts solely related to modernity' - Nationalism and Ethnic Politics

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