Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tribe, Class, and Cold Pizza

In the comments sections of one of my Tribal posts, Cold Pizza linked to a long but excellent article on the Rand Corp site about tribalism and its effect on societal development. The article in turn references much research and commentary on the topic, which gives me new places to look for information. This is a more academic treatment, contrasting tribes and clans with networks and hierarchies with more precise definitions than I use in my offhand way here.

I was pleased to understand it well enough to have objections, which I will not share presently.

In my observation that one source of the A&H disdain for the Business and S&T tribes may be competitiveness, I had originally thought of this only in terms of money envy. I had followed the stereotype that the latter tribes made more money, but had less education than A&H. It turns out that they have as much education as the A&H tribe, suggesting that they are indeed beginning to supplant them as the public intellectuals. This is likely quite provoking to a group which has considered itself the natural leaders and advisors of the society.

This led me to the thought that the struggle I am observing, though it has folks acting tribally, may have more elements of a class struggle.

I am going to move away from the "types of thinking" interpretations. They are perhaps more valuable when considering the actions of an individual, but I am trying to get a handle on groups here.


Woody said...

I just recalled a discussion with my mom, who is a history expert (especially on ancient Rome), on how the U.S. will finally come to an end. She used the word "factions" when describing how the country will break down.

I agree that much of what we have is class struggle and now see that thinking processes are hard to apply to groups.

terri said...

Thinking processes, in the technical sense, are too specific to represent large groups of people, but I think that the sentiment behind the suggestion is still valid.

It has less to do with specific brain activity and more to do with philosophical bents. There are those in society whose reasoning and decision-making processes lie squarely in the emotional strength of an argument. If they, or someone else they are "protecting," feel strongly about something, then that-in their minds-gives weight and strength to their cause, regardless of whether the decision is actually a good or correct decision.

Then, you have another segment of society that sees issues through concrete, factual, absolute glasses. There are no exceptions in their minds. The law is the law, the facts are the facts and anything else is malarkey.

The former leads to ridiculousness and the latter leads to rigidity and, at times, a machiavellian attitude.

JonathanWyman said...

What category do they put lawyers in? That could sway it.