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Tribal marketing for ‘Generation Me’

By Bob Bailly

Prior to leaving on a holiday to Europe at the beginning of May, I was preparing an article on how tribal behaviour has been shaped by our expanded use of technology. Scotland, southern Spain and London didn’t change my topic, but the way I look at it was certainly altered.

A number of years ago I was researching this subject and came across a threaded blog entitled Tribe.

What had got me going then was this part of the post:

…Basically what tribal life is about is kinship. A tribal society is a society that functions by kinship — which is not limited to blood kinship, because all beings in the universe are kin, just as all societies conceive of the universe based on their own social structure (example: medieval Europeans, who lived under kings, saw the universe as ruled by a Divine King; modern society, which functions like a machine in which people are more or less interchangeable parts, sees the universe as a machine, etc.) indigenous tribal people, who live in an extended family … see the universe as an extended family as well, in which everyone is obligated to take care of everybody else. The closer the kinship, the greater the obligation.

I was intrigued because so much of my research into human business behaviour at the time had been concerned with evolutionary neuroscience and the concept of how decisions are controlled by our primitive brain’s self-interest. What’s always intrigued me is why and how the me, or the ego, or the mind controls the brain to look beyond itself and to become tuned to the group, the pack or the tribes to which it belongs. My questions: Why should we feel obligation to our tribe? What is it in our belonging that is central to how we operate as individuals? And finally, are new technologies changing our tribal behaviours?

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