In this article, we focus on modern tribes. Namely, we are interested in finding out Romanians' perceptions and attitudes towards particular groups of people that have a certain interest (e.g. dieting, sports, pet lovers etc.). Our research was conducted through an online survey on our platform www.questia.ro covering 500 respondents, with a plus or minus 4% margin of error. The survey was active between 7 and 8 of November 2017. Our findings are presented below.
Following Catherine Bennett’s modern tribes in The Guardian, we wanted to know the perceptions people have of specific groups of people that they meet either at work, at family gatherings or in other social circles. Bennett’s endeavor manages to capture some of the key characteristics of contemporary groups in the UK and their interests, ranging from the sports day parent, the serial complainer, the tactical voter or the ‘staycationer’.
Tribes and/or neo-tribes are concepts stemming from anthropology, mostly linked to subcultures. Although sharing the same name, Andy Bennett’s neo-tribes represent a different approach to Catherine Bennett’s. Using Maffesoli’s concept of tribus (tribes) and applying this to an empirical study of the contemporary dance music in Britain, Andy Bennett argues that the musical and stylistic sensibilities exhibited by the young people involved in the dance music scene are clear examples of a form of late modern ‘sociality’ rather than a fixed subcultural group. Drawing on ethnographic research of the urban dance-music scene in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in north-east England, Bennett suggests that the idea of tribes is a certain ambience, a state of mind, and is preferably to be expressed through lifestyles that favor appearance and form’ (Maffesoli 1996: 98). Underpinning Maffesoli’s concept of tribes is a concern to illustrate the shifting nature of collective associations between individuals as societies become increasingly consumer orientated (1996:97–8).
In this sense, the lifestyle of such tribes describes the sensibilities employed by the individual in choosing certain commodities and patterns of consumption and in articulating these cultural resources as modes of personal expression (Chaney 1994, 1996).
Next, we wanted to see Romanians' interactions to what we called ‘modern tribes’. Here, we focused on some categories that we identified as more common in our society. We also found some commonalities between our groups and Catherine Bennett’s modern tribes. This has to do with the fact that consumption practices have become more and more globalized, through trends.
Firstly, we asked the respondents who of the following groups of people they have interacted so far with. In this manner, the serial complainer is one of the top categories people have met in their social circles. The serial complainer refers to the person who, no matter where he/she is (restaurant, work, in the park) he/she will always be unhappy with something.
Waiter! Can you go and tell the chef my friend’s fish is disgustingly dry, go on, take it away, and while you’re at it, my meat was cold, disgraceful, the sauce was congealing by the time it got here, practically made me retch, see, I had to leave those peas.
The second most met person for our respondents is the ‘healthy eater’. Eating healthy is this person’s mantra. Read our post about superfoods and the hysteria around it.
The cat guy or the dog lover are the third most met people in the respondent’s social groups. These people talk more about their pets than themselves. They will show you pictures, videos of their pets, you will know their diets, favorite toys and if you are lucky – you can meet their pets whenever the owner is out (if he/she has a dog) or when visiting (if the pet is a cat).
So wouldn’t you like to come back and meet him, give him a cuddle, you know it’s very therapeutic? You’re allergic? You can’t be, all women like cats, I mean that’s why I got – no, look, come back, I haven’t told you about my snake yet.
The weather watcher and the obsessive runner are also met in people's social groups, but not so common. The person who has an app for everything is also a rarity in people’s social circles, however, the one who always checks his/her weather app seems to be much more common: it’s sunny only if it’s on one’s smartphone!
Other ‘modern tribes’ represent those of people who, no matter what happens, have to point out to a similar event that one of their favorite characters have passed through last week. See our post about TV series to find out what’s Romanian’s top favorite shows here.
The “I don’t have a Facebook account’ person is also at the top of the modern tribes. Good luck organizing things with this person!
To this, we add the people who are always talking about their children: They will show you pictures, videos of their children, you will know their diets, favorite toys and if you are lucky enough, you will most probably meet them. Here, Catherine Bennett adds the the helicopter parent, who generally take care of every social activity of their children, age 1 to 35.
The lowest scores are attributed to the climate change denier who, like Donald Trump refuses to believe humans have anything to do with the many disrupting changes in our environment. Also, more recently in Romania, the craft beer enthusiast is met with a lower degree. He/she usually always asks if the beverages everywhere are crafted. If not, be prepared to hear about it!
Next, we asked the respondents to express their opinions about some of the modern tribes previously identified. The results show that people generally have a good opinion of the person who has an app for everything because they probably consider him/her to be efficient and connected to the modern tech life. Those who talk about their pet animals score higher than those who always talk about their children. People who don’t have Facebook are also perceived better, probably because of the negative impact that social media has both on the social and political level.
The diet guru who will be happy to share the exclusive tips and recipes you’ll need until their next revolutionary diet discovery are generally perceived rather negatively. Here, we add those who always talk about their job and those who always take selfies. We posted about the selfie issue here. We showed that the places to take selfies are associated with public places where other people would also be taking photos. However, respondents agreed that is inappropriate to take selfies at work/school, or in a public transport and in the bathroom/tub.
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