Tribalism is the state of being organised in or an advocate for a tribe or tribes. In terms of conformity, tribalism may also refer in popular cultural terms to a way of thinking or behaving in which people are loyal to their own tribe or social group.
Tribalism has been defined in as a 'way of being' based upon variable combinations of kinship-based organisation, reciprocal exchange, manual production, oral communication and analogical enquiry.
Ontologically, tribalism is oriented around the valences of analogy, genealogy and mythology. That means that customary tribes have their social foundations in some variation of these tribal orientations while often taking on traditional practices (including through religions of the book such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), and modern practices, including monetary exchange, mobile communications, and modern education.
The social structure of a tribe can vary greatly from case to case, but the relatively small size of customary tribes makes social life in such of tribes usually involve a relatively undifferentiated role structure, with few significant political or economic distinctions between individuals.
Tribalism implies the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates one member of a group from the members of another group. Based on strong relations of proximity and kinship, members of a tribe tend to possess a strong feeling of identity. Objectively, for a customary tribal society to form there needs to be ongoing customary organization, enquiry and exchange. However, intense feelings of common identity can lead people to feel tribally connected.
The distinction between these two definitions for tribalism, objective and subjective, is an important one because while tribal societies have been pushed to the edges of the Western world, tribalism, by the second definition, is arguably undiminished. A few writers have postulated that the human brain is hard-wired towards tribalism by its evolutionary advantages, but that claim is usually linked to equating original questions of sociality with tribalism.