Conviviality and Belonging or Distinction and Exclusion? Neo-Tribal Leisure Practices in Contemporary Consumer Culture

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Dachgeschoss (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Elias LE GRAND, Stockholm University, Sweden
This paper addresses the question of whether and how leisure can be a social and moral good, in the context of neo-tribal forms of sociality. Following the foundational work of Maffesoli, neo-tribes or tribus are usually conceived as temporary, fluid, inclusive and emotionally charged forms of communality formed in and through leisure activities and spaces. Many scholars deploying the concept argue that in an increasingly individualised world where individuals are disembedded from traditional social structures and collective identities such as those based on class, neo-tribal leisure practices can serve to re-embed them into collective forms of conviviality, identification and belonging, however fleeting. Hence neo-tribes can be interpreted as a positive counterforce to the potential negative effects of individualisation such as anxiety, alienation and a loss of community. It is argued that while some aspects of neo-tribal sociality are beneficial and tied to an inclusive, non-instrumental and democratic sensibility, they are coupled with processes and relationships tied to the reproduction of social and symbolic hierarchies, as well as to often subtle forms of exclusion. In this way, the paper suggests that neo-tribal forms of sociality may be bound up with hierarchies of value and tied individuals’ differential access to economic, cultural and social resources. As a consequence those lacking in such resources may be excluded from participating in certain neo-tribal forms of sociality. These arguments are developed by exploring recent research on neo-tribal leisure sites in the domain of ‘alternative’ food provision, including farmers markets, food festivals, food cooperatives and food box schemes.