Tribes and Tribalism

Posted by: Rachel Coldbeck - Posted on:

It has been a really busy few months for me, both on the scheme and outside of the scheme! In the blog this week, I thought I would focus on some of the learning that has taken place recently. We’ve had a lot of residential and day courses over the last few weeks!

Yesterday I attended a session in Leeds run by Alan Nobbs looking at tribes and tribalism. This was a really interesting session with participants from both the graduate and clinical fellows’ scheme.

The first thing to think about is what tribes do you belong to? If you are at University you might below to a sports team, a social club or a facilitation group. If you’re working, it might be the work tribe or the office tribe. Do you belong to a family tribe? Do these tribes look the same or do they act the same? Think about how hard it might be to join another tribe – for example have you ever tried to join another family tribe when you are in a relationship?

In the NHS there are many tribes. These may be hard to move between and they may work in different ways. They are likely to have their own hierarchical structures much like ‘elders’ in a traditional tribe. Tribes in the NHS can affect the way the service runs and how comfortable people feel. There may be differences between clinical and managerial tribes in your workplace. During one of the sessions yesterday, we discussed some of those views about other tribes – mainly clinicians and managers. Clinicians may have very set views about managers, and managers very set views about clinicians. Largely we know about these viewpoints and stereotypes, but how often to do we actively think about them?

I was recently watching a programme called ‘My Year with the Tribe’ on BBC2 and the session yesterday made me think more about this. These traditional tribes in the rainforest were working together to create a ‘fake’ environment for foreign media agencies. For example when the media were out in the forest, they lived in more traditional raised treehouses and walked around naked. When the media were not there, they lived in huts in a local village and wore western clothing. They had learnt that if they acted in a certain way they could make money to live from these agencies. It made me think if there any tribes we work within that feel they need to act in a certain way, rather in a natural way.  Do we sometimes act to those pre-set stereotypes? Equally, there could be members of a tribe that feel they need to act in a certain way to be a member of the tribe. How could this affect our service users and services?

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