A tribe is viewed, historically or developmentally, as a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states. Many anthropologists used the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups (see clan and kinship).
Some theorists hold that tribes represent a stage in social evolution intermediate between bands and states. Other theorists argue that tribes developed after, and must be understood in terms of their relationship to, states.
'Tribe' is a contested term due to its roots in colonial anthropological foundations and the connotations that these hierarchical definitions have. It is common practice to use alternative terms like 'ethnic group', or nation.
Famous quotes containing the word tribe:
“We have nothing to fear and a great deal to learn from trees, that vigorous and pacific tribe which without stint produces strengthening essences for us, soothing balms, and in whose gracious company we spend so many cool, silent and intimate hours.”
—Marcel Proust (18711922)
“In some ways being a parent is like being an anthropologist who is studying a primitive and isolated tribe by living with them.... To understand the beauty of child development, we must shed some of our socialization as adults and learn how to communicate with children on their own terms, just as an anthropologist must learn how to communicate with that primitive tribe.”
—Lawrence Kutner (20th century)