This study seeks to recast the social dynamic of postmodernity. It argues, in contrast to much contemporary thought defining this dynamic as the contraction of the social into the individual, that it is in fact a retreat into tribalism. The tension which characterizes the end of the 20th century is seen as not between society and the individual, but between massification and the development of microgroups in the form of tribes. The basis of this process is identified as a combination of archaic values - localism, religious identification, etc - and communication technology, which produces the "neotribalism" evident in the modern metropolis.
Michel Maffesoli is Professor of Sociology at the Centre d'Etudes sur l'Actuel at le Quotidean, UER de Sciences Sociales, Paris.