What is Tribalism?

Definition and meaning of tribalism: Tribalism, in the political context, refers to strong loyalty to one's own group, party, or identity. Tribalism often manifests as an "us versus them" mentality. Rooted in evolutionary psychology, tribalism once served to foster cohesion within groups, enhancing their chances of survival against external threats. In contemporary politics, however, it can be problematic. While loyalty and group identity can provide a sense of belonging, excessive tribalism can stifle objective reasoning, hinder collaboration, and promote animosity towards those outside the "tribe." In severe cases, it can even lead to the demonization of outsiders, making productive dialogue difficult. Modern democracies grapple with the challenge of fostering unity while respecting diverse opinions and identities.

In the United States, tribalism is most often seen in the ongoing conflict between the Democratic and Republican parties. Devoted members of these two major parties may view the opposing party as a threat to the nation or even to democracy. They may also find it difficult to collaborate with members of the other party.


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