What is Urban Tribalism?

Good question! Urban Tribalism is the idea that young people in contemporary culture are replacing the traditional support groups of extended family with tight knit communities of friends.  Rather than relying strictly on the bonds of blood and marriage, young adults create their own modern tribes, which, like traditional tribes, have their own rituals, standards for admittance, and expectations.

The term was coined by Ethan Watters who wrote the book Urban Tribes.  Watters originally introduced the idea of urban tribes as an explanation for the delayed marriage age in the US.  While I don't necessarily share his view on that subject (as many people in our tribe have married in their early to mid twenties - with varying degrees of success), much of the book is sound, and does a good job of describing the social reality of being closer to your network of friends than your blood family.  To find out more about Watters take on the term he invented, check out http://urbantribes.typepad.com/

 In terms of this blog, my tribe is my local network of friends.  They are the people who call me when their car breaks down, when they need to borrow $500, or when they need a place to crash in Atlanta so they can get to court on time.  They are also the people who help me move, buy me dinner when we're broke, and celebrate my Jewish holidays with me so that I don't feel lonely in a religion that's supposed to be about community.  Oddly, unlike many of the individuals in tribal groups through out the nation, ours wasn't formed in response to having moved to another city for school or work.  Most of us are Georgia (and even metro Atlanta) natives, with at least one, if not both, parents with in an hour's drive.  Despite this, however, we have formed a tightknit social network.  Maybe for us it's about maintaining independence from our parents when they would otherwise be so easy to fall back on.