Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.


1. the state of existing as a separate tribe or tribes
2. the customs and beliefs of a tribal society
3. loyalty to a tribe or tribal values



in contemporary literature and in the political sphere, a concept that has a wide range of meanings: the surviving archaic institutions and organizations of clan and tribal societies; the archaic features in social development; the stage of relatively little ethnic differentiation; the mutual hostility of ethnic groups; the policy of ethnic chauvinism that grants advantages and privileges to an ethnic group as a whole or to some of its members; and the exploitation of ethnicity for political ends.

In the past as well as in the present, tribalism has been widely used by the colonialists in their efforts to hamper national liberation movements, and by the local forces of political reaction in their struggle for power. As interpreted by representatives of Africa’s progressive forces, the concept of tribalism is associated with all that is reactionary and damaging to national unity. The African progressives wage a firm struggle against all manifestations of tribalism and contrast it to the concept of “nation.”

References in periodicals archive ?
Not only does tribalism keep the brainiest and most skilled Kenyans on the peripheries of policy-making and policy-implementation, it also discourages all members of our best educated and most skilled class from seeking to serve the nation where they are most needed and with anything like enough dedication and self-sacrifice.
Kowtowing to the various new-waves of tribalism creates an 'us and them' situation, particularly when we look to name whole parts of our cities as gay quarters; very welcoming for gays, but uncomfortable, unwelcoming places for others, creating a sort of zoo environment.
To survive - and yes we can, to seek hope - it cannot possibly be worse, or be asphyxiated by the wanton, sociopathic tribalism of the Westminster Establishment.
Tribalism has strong appeal in periods of rapid, tumultuous change, as what the political philosopher Karl Popper called the "the strain of civilisation" exerts its pressures on society.
And when we all observe what horrors are created by tribalism, one might have hoped that British nationalists, in all their silly shapes, from fascists to Eurosceptics, from tartan armies to English hooligans, from separationists to little Englanders, from isolationists to xenophobes, from Tory Colonel Blimps to angry Ukip supporters, could come to see that the basic fault lies in them, that they cannot grasp a higher vision than their own prejudice.
In today's political discourse, we don't hear the term tribalism in relation to political parties, but that is exactly the behavior exhibited by Republicans.
Ahmad Al Mukhaini, a political affairs researcher, believes that tribalism plays a major role in the election of candidates to the council.
It's a lot easier to give into racism and tribalism in our dealing with other groups than to step back and widen our circle of compassion.
The tribalism notion based on which Duranies established their administration was fading due to the prolonged war and flammable conflicts between the rival princes supported by emulous Pashtoon tribes.
So tribalism, petty nationalism and so on came back to life" - Writer Sir Salman Rushdie.
Jerry must be told in no uncertain terms that if there is a political party that is perpetuating tribalism in this country, that party is no other than SWAPO.
HH the Amir has also touched upon disturbing social ills such as the spreading sectarianism, tribalism and social divisions," he added.