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The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes ...

human
social group In the social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly used to r ...
. The predominant usage of the term is in the discipline of
anthropology Anthropology is the of ity, concerned with , , , and , in both the present and past, including . studies patterns of behaviour, while studies cultural meaning, including norms and values. studies how language influences social life. studi ...
. The definition is contested, in part due to conflicting theoretical understandings of social and kinship structures, and also reflecting the problematic application of this concept to extremely diverse human societies. The concept is often contrasted by anthropologists with other social and
kinship In , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated. Anthropologist states that "the study of kins ...

kinship
groups, being hierarchically larger than a lineage or
clan A clan is a group of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of ...

clan
, but smaller than a
chiefdom A chiefdom is a form of hierarchical political organization in non-industrial societies usually based on kinship In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all soci ...
,
nation A nation is a community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as Norm (social), norms, religion, values, Convention (norm), customs, or Identity (social science), identity. Communities may share a sense ...

nation
or
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
. These terms are equally disputed. In some cases tribes have legal recognition and some degree of political autonomy from national or federal government, but this legalistic usage of the term may conflict with anthropological definitions.


Etymology

The modern English word ''tribe'' stems from Middle English ''tribu'', which ultimately derives from Latin ''tribus''. According to the
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary A historical dictionary or dictionary on historical principles is a dictionary which deals not only with the latterday meanings of words but also the historica ...
, it remains unclear if this form is the result of a borrowing from a Romance language source (such as
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular o ...
''tribu'') or if the form is a result of borrowing directly from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
(the Middle English plural ''tribuz'' 1250 may be a direct representation of Latin plural ''tribūs''). Modern English ''tribe'' may also be a result of a common pattern wherein English borrows nouns directly from Latin and drops suffixes, including ''-us''. Latin ''tribus'' is generally held by
linguists Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include phonetics, phonet ...
to be a compound formed from two elements: ''tri-'' 'three' and ''bhu'', ''bu'', ''fu'', a verbal root meaning 'to be'."tribe, n.".
OED Online The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary A historical dictionary or dictionary on historical principles is a dictionary which deals not only with the latterday meanings of words but also the historical ...
. September 2020. Oxford University Press
Online
(accessed November 19, 2020).
Latin ''tribus'' is held to derive from the
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
compound Compound may refer to: Architecture and built environments * Compound (enclosure), a cluster of buildings having a shared purpose, usually inside a fence or wall ** Compound (fortification), a version of the above fortified with defensive structu ...
*''tri-dʰh₁u/o-'' ('rendered in three, tripartite division'; compare with
Umbrian Umbrian is an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, p ...
''trifu'' 'trinity, district',
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
''trídha'' 'threefold').


Classification

Considerable debate has accompanied efforts to define and characterize tribes. In the popular imagination, tribes reflect a primordial social structure from which all subsequent civilizations and states developed.
AnthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, societies. Social anthropology, cultural anthropology and philosophical anthropology study the norm ...
Elman Service Elman Rogers Service (1915–1996) was an American cultural anthropologist Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology Anthropology is the Science, scientific study of humanity, concerned with human behavior, human biology, cultures, ...
presented a system of classification for societies in all human cultures, based on the evolution of
social inequality Social inequality occurs when resources in a given society are distributed unevenly, typically through Norm (social), norms of allocation, that engender specific patterns along lines of socially defined categories of persons. It is the differ ...
and the role of the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
. This system of classification contains four categories: *
Hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. T ...
bands Band or BAND may refer to: Places *Bánd, a village in Hungary *Band, Iran, a village in Urmia County, West Azerbaijan Province, Iran *Band, Mureș, a commune in Romania *Band-e Majid Khan, a village in Bukan County, West Azerbaijan Province, Ira ...
that are generally
egalitarian Egalitarianism (), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political philosophy that builds from the concept of social equality, prioritizing it for all people. Egalitarian doctrines are generally characterized by the idea that all hu ...
* Tribal societies with some limited instances of
social rank A social class is a set of concepts in the and centered on models of which occur in a class society, in which people are grouped into a set of social categories, the most common being the , and . Membership in a social class can for examp ...
and prestige *
Stratified Stratification may refer to: In mathematics: * Stratification (mathematics), any consistent assignment of numbers to predicate symbols * Stratified sampling , Data stratification in statistics In earth sciences: * Stable and unstable stratificati ...
tribal societies led by chieftains (see
Chiefdom A chiefdom is a form of hierarchical political organization in non-industrial societies usually based on kinship In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all soci ...
) *
Civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a complex society A complex society is a concept that is shared by a range of disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, history and sociology to describe a stage of social formation. The concep ...

Civilization
s, with complex social hierarchies and organized, institutional governments Tribes are therefore considered to be a political unit formed from an organisation of families (including clans and lineages) based on social or ideological solidarity. Membership of a tribe may be understood simplistically as being an identity based on factors such as
kinship In , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated. Anthropologist states that "the study of kins ...

kinship
("clan"),
ethnicity An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups. Those attributes can include common sets of traditions, ancest ...
("race"), language, dwelling place, political group, religious beliefs,
oral tradition Oral tradition, or oral lore, is a form of human communication Human communication, or anthroposemiotics, is the field dedicated to understanding how human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of prima ...
and/or cultural practices.
Archaeologists Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The technique h ...
continue to explore the development of pre-state tribes. Current research suggests that tribal structures constituted one type of adaptation to situations providing plentiful yet unpredictable resources. Such structures proved flexible enough to coordinate production and distribution of food in times of scarcity, without limiting or constraining people during times of surplus.


Controversy and usage depreciation

The term "tribe" was in common use in the field of anthropology until the late 1950s and 1960s. The continued use of the term has attracted controversy among anthropologists and other academics active in the
social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist o ...

social science
s, with scholars of
anthropological Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, l ...
and ethnohistorical research challenging the utility of the concept. In 1970, anthropologist J. Clyde Mitchell wrote: :The tribe, a long respected category of analysis in anthropology, has recently been the object of some scrutiny by anthropologists ... Doubts about the utility of the tribe as an analytical category have almost certainly arisen out of the rapid involvement of peoples, even in the remotest parts of the globe, in political, economic and sometimes direct social relationship with industrial nations. The doubts, however, are based ultimately on the definition and meaning which different scholars give to the term 'tribe', its adjective 'tribal', and its abstract form 'tribalism'.Mitchell, Clyde J. (1970). "Tribe and Social Change in South Central Africa: A Situational Approach" in Gutkind, Peter C. W. Editor. ''The Passing of Tribal Man in Africa'', p. 83.
Brill Brill may refer to: Places * Brielle , Dutch Topographic map of Brielle, June 2015 Brielle (), also called Den Briel (Brill in English) is a town, municipality and historic seaport in the western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland, o ...
.
Despite the membership boundaries for a tribe being conceptually simple, in reality they are often vague and subject to change over time. In his 1975 study, ''The Notion of the Tribe'',
anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, societies. Social anthropology, cultural anthropology and philosophical anthropology study the norm ...
Morton H. Fried provided numerous examples of tribes that encompassed members who spoke different languages and practiced different rituals, or who shared languages and rituals with members of other tribes. Similarly, he provided examples of tribes in which people followed different political leaders, or followed the same leaders as members of other tribes. He concluded that tribes in general are characterized by fluid boundaries, heterogeneity and dynamism, and are not parochial. Part of the difficulty with the term is that it seeks to construct and apply a common conceptual framework across diverse cultures and peoples. Different anthropologists studying different peoples therefore draw conflicting conclusions about the nature, structure and practices of tribes. Writing on the Kurdish peoples, anthropologist Martin van Bruinessen argued, "the terms of standard anthropological usage, 'tribe', 'clan' and 'lineage' appear to be a straitjacket that ill fits the social reality of Kurdistan". There are further negative connotations of the term "tribe" that have reduced its use. Writing in 2013, scholar Matthew Ortoleva noted that "like the word ''Indian'', '' ibe'' is a word that has connotations of colonialism."Ortoleva, Matthew (2013). "We Face East" in Goggin, Peter N. Editor. ''Environmental Rhetoric and Ecologies of Place'', p. 95.
Routledge Routledge () is a British multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational state, a so ...
.
Survival International Survival International is a human rights organisation formed in 1969 that campaigns for the collective rights, rights of indigenous peoples, indigenous and/or tribal peoples and uncontacted peoples. The organisation's campaigns generally focus on ...
says "It is important to make the distinction between ''tribal'' and ''indigenous'' because tribal peoples have a special status acknowledged in international law as well as problems in addition to those faced by the wider category of indigenous peoples."


Present-day

Few tribes today remain isolated from the development of the modern state system. Tribes have lost their legitimacy to conduct traditional functions, such as
tithing A tithing or tything was a historic English legal, administrative or territorial unit, originally ten hide (unit), hides (and hence, one tenth of a Hundred (country subdivision), hundred). Tithings later came to be seen as subdivisions of a Manoria ...
, delivering
justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, ...

justice
and defending territory, with these being replaced by states functions and institutions, such as taxation, law courts and the military. Most have suffered decline and loss of cultural identity. Some have adapted to the new political context and transformed their culture and practices in order to survive, whilst others have secured legal rights and protections. Anthropologist
Morton Fried Morton Herbert Fried (March 21, 1923 in Bronx, New York – December 18, 1986 in Leonia, New Jersey Leonia is a borough A borough is an administrative division in various English language, English-speaking countries. In principle, the term ''b ...
proposed that most surviving tribes do not have their origin in pre-state tribes, but rather in pre-state bands. Such "secondary" tribes, he suggested, developed as modern products of state expansion. Bands comprise small, mobile, and fluid social formations with weak
leadership Leadership, both as a research area and as a practical skill, encompasses the ability of an individual, group or organization An organization, or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and B ...

leadership
. They do not generate surpluses, pay no taxes, and support no standing army. Fried argued that secondary tribes develop in one of two ways. First, states could set them up as means to extend administrative and economic influence in their hinterland, where direct political control costs too much. States would encourage (or require) people on their frontiers to form more clearly bounded and centralized polities, because such polities could begin producing surpluses and taxes, and would have a leadership responsive to the needs of neighboring states (the so-called "scheduled" tribes of the United States or of British India provide good examples of this). Second, bands could form "secondary" tribes as a means to defend against state expansion. Members of bands would form more clearly bounded and centralized polities, because such polities could begin producing surpluses that could support a standing army that could fight against states, and they would have a leadership that could co-ordinate economic production and military activities. In the
Native American tribes In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washing ...
of North America, tribes are considered
polities A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of institutionalized social relations, and have a capacity to mobilize resources. A polity can be any other group o ...
, or
sovereign nation A sovereign state is a political entity that is represented by one centralized government A centralized government (also united government) is one in which both executive and legislative power is concentrated centrally at the higher level as ...
s, that have retained or been granted legal recognition and some degree of autonomy by a national or federal government.


See also

*
Band society A band society, sometimes called a camp, or in older usage, a horde, is the simplest form of human society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and ...
*
Ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitut ...
*
Meenas The Meena () is a tribe found mainly in the Rajasthan Rajasthan (; ; lit. 'Land of Kings') is a in . It covers or 10.4 percent of India's total geographical area. It is the and the . It is on India's northwestern side, where it compr ...
*
Micronation A micronation is a political entity whose members claim that they belong to an independent nation or sovereign state lacking legal recognition by world governments or major international organizations. Most are geographically very small, but ra ...
*
New Tribal Revolution ''Beyond Civilization'' (subtitled ''Humanity's Next Great Adventure'') is a book by Daniel Quinn written as a non-fiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any document or media content that intends, in good faith, to present only trut ...
*
Nomad A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation who regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo ...

Nomad
* Pantribal sodalities *
Patrilineality Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although ...
* Segmentary society *
Social group In the social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of pla ...
*
Stateless society A stateless society is a society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, ...
*
Tribal chief A tribal chief or chieftain is the leader of a or . Tribe The concept of is a broadly applied concept, based on tribal concepts of societies of western . Tribal societies are sometimes categorized as an intermediate stage between the o ...
*
Tribal name A tribal name is a name of an ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups. Those attributes can incl ...
*
Tribal sovereignty 300px, Map of the contiguous United States with reservation lands excluded as of 2003 Tribal sovereignty in the United States is the concept of the inherent authority of indigenous tribes to govern themselves within the borders of the Uni ...
* Tribal warfare *
Tribalism Tribalism is the state of being organized by, or advocating for, tribes or tribal lifestyles. Human evolution has primarily occurred in small groups, as opposed to people's cooperation in society as a whole. With a negative connotation and in a ...
**
Neotribalism Neotribalism, also known as modern tribalism or neo-tribalism, is a sociological concept which postulates that human beings have evolved to live in tribal society, as opposed to mass society, and thus will naturally form social network A soci ...
* Tribe (Internet) *
Twelve Tribes of Israel The Twelve Tribes of Israel ( he, שבטי ישראל, translit=Shivtei Yisrael, lit=Tribes of Israel) are, according to Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic religious texts, the descendants of the biblical Patriarchs (Bible), patriarch Jacob, also kno ...


Notes


References

* Benveniste, Émile (1973). ''Indo-European Language and Society'', translated by Elizabeth Palmer. London: Faber and Faber. . * Benveniste, Émile (1935). ''Origines de la formation des noms en indo-européen''. * Fried, Morton H. (1975). ''The Notion of Tribe''. Cummings Publishing Company. . * Helm, June, ed., (1968). ''Essays on the Problem of Tribe,'' Proceedings, American Ethnological Society. Seattle: University of Washington Press. * * * Nagy, Gregory (1990). ''Greek Mythology and Poetics'', Cornell University Press. Chapter 12, beginning on p. 276, explores the meaning of the word origin and social context of a tribe in ancient Greece and beyond. * Sutton, Imre (1975). ''Indian Land Tenure: Bibliographical Essays and a Guide to the Literature''. Clearwater, NY: Tribe. pp. 101–02, 180–82, 186–87, 191–93. * Renfrew, Colin & Paul G. Bahn (2008). ''Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice''. New York: Thames and Hudson


External links

{{DEFAULTSORT:Tribe Ethnology Self-sustainability