The key difference between tribalism and cultism is that tribalism is a tribal lifestyle or extended group of kin or clan with a common ancestor, while cultism is the system or practice of a cult, which is a social or religious group whose beliefs are individualistic, secret or mystical.
Tribalism is considered primitive and tribal people have common goals and traditions. They share common kinship and descent as well. They believe in egalitarianism, and most do not have private property. Cults may have different ulterior motives. Most members in such groups are those from the oppressed level in society, and while in these groups, some are being used without their knowledge.
What is Tribalism?
The word ‘tribe’ was derived from the Latin term ‘tribus.’ Tribalism is a tribal lifestyle or extended small group of kin and clan with a common ancestor. They have one leader and observe common customs and rules. They share common interests and try to preserve their own culture. Therefore, tribes are small independent subgroups. They are based on genealogy, analogy, and mythology. Tribalism was created because tribal societies had a shortage of organizational level beyond that of local tribes since each tribe consisted of only a very small local population. Some may define tribalism as a group that has discriminatory behaviour towards others because of their in-group loyalty. Their internal structure can vary greatly, but as they are a small group of people, they have a relatively simple structure. They hardly have any social distinctions between themselves. Some tribes believe in egalitarianism, and most do not believe in possessing private property. Because of this, they are also called primitive communism. Tribalism is the very first social system that human beings ever lived in. Furthermore, it lasted much longer than any other society up to date.
The term ‘tribalism’ also has the connotation that the socially divided small groups maintain hostility towards each other. Therefore, tribalism connotes a society divided in civil conflicts between countless small groups.
What is Cultism?
A cult is a social or religious group whose beliefs are individualistic, secret, or mystical. They usually share common opinions and causes; it is also an act of experiencing religious practice. Cultism refers to the practices and devotions of a cult. Generally, cults are unknown to the public, and even their leaders’ motives are unknown to the members as well. Their rituals, policies, and admission are kept secret from the general public. This is also considered a distractive force in society.
Why Do People Join Cults?
- To become responsible for something
- To satisfy their secret desires or personal goals
- Expectations to go higher in the society
- To get recognition, power, social status, popularity
- To satisfy the needs of a leader without being aware that they are being used
- People with emotional and psychological sicknesses
- Family pressure
- Financial stability
These groups can provide an illusion of responsibility. If they remain faithful to the members and the leader, there is a tendency that they receive their expectations. Most of its members are from societies filled with poverty, insecurity, and corruption, and they have lost faith in their local authorities. Therefore they join these groups to fill the gaps in their lives.
Examples for Cult Groups in Nigeria
- Ciao-Sons- For revenge, gambling, secrecy and parties.
- Dedy Na debt – By student society of Nigeria. They believe in the demon that grants them power over other cults.
- Daughters of Jezebel – A women cult group
Characteristics of Cultism
- A secret practice
- Practised by a group of individuals
- A spiritual or religious practice
- Policies are unknown to the general public
- Changes the values of the people
- Effects the life of an individual
What is the Difference Between Tribalism and Cultism?
The key difference between tribalism and cultism is that tribalism is a social system where the people in the society are divided into small, roughly independent subgroups named tribes, while cultism is the system or practice of a cult, which is a social or religious group whose beliefs are individualistic secret or mystical.
The following figure lists the difference between tribalism and cultism in tabular form.
Summary – Tribalism vs Cultism
Tribalism is considered primitive. They share common kinship and descent and follows common rituals and believes. They believe in being egalitarian. Cultism is the system or practice of a cult, which is a group of people whose beliefs are individualistic, secret, or mystical. They have various reasons to join cult groups, and by joining them, they try to fill the gaps in their lives. Thus, this is the key difference between tribalism and cultism.