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Old 11-04-2011, 07:52 AM
 
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Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
So you don't need an explanation for why people in Pittsburgh exhibit tribalism, other than to note they are members of the same species as other humans. And you don't need much more of an explanation to explain why people in Pittsburgh exhibit tribalism about sports--that sort of thing is deliberately encouraged by sports leagues and their affiliates (including in the media) as a way of competing for entertainment dollars.
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But if your theory of tribalism (and basically sub-cultures) is correct, then why does this particular tribe have such thin skin?
I think a more specific explanation is necessary in order to answer the question posed above by Carl. Tribalism is a basic human trait, of course, but cultural variations can modify its intensity. I'm suggesting that Pittsburgh's cultural legacy helps to explain the intensity of that particular kind of tribalism here. Merely suggesting, mind you - my idea is nothing more than an hypothesis.
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Old 11-04-2011, 07:57 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Aqua Teen Carl View Post
Arguably some of things are unique (such as Roonie worship).
I don't think that is unique at all--tribes almost always venerate certain figures like that.

Quote:
But if your theory of tribalism (and basically sub-cultures) is correct, then why does this particular tribe have such thin skin? For example, I'm part of the information technology "tribe" and in many ways self-depreciating humor, self criticism, and accepting of stereotypes goes with the territory.
Tribes almost always have a double standard when it comes to things like criticism. I think you will find that Steelers fans will tolerate a great deal of criticism from other Steelers fans of specific players, coaches, actions, decisions, and so on. But when they are perceived as being under attack by non-members of the tribe, they will react with hostility.

I can't speak for your particular tech tribe, but I have perceived something similar among other such people I know. Among themselves, there is self-deprecation, teasing, broad acceptance of criticism, and so on. But at least some people will react with contempt and/or hostility to perceived attacks from non-members of the tribe.

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There are other tribes/sub-cultures/groups that obviously are partial to one another, but not at the extent I shared above. I'm curious as to why that is.
As I noted in another comment, sports leagues and their affiliates deliberately cultivate tribal behavior as part of their marketing strategy. Other industries sometimes do that too--indeed, brand loyalty in general is somewhat based on tribalism--but tribalism in a very overt form is central to the business model of sports.
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:03 AM
 
Location: ɥbɹnqsʇʇıd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
I don't think that is unique at all--tribes almost always venerate certain figures like that.



Tribes almost always have a double standard when it comes to things like criticism. I think you will find that Steelers fans will tolerate a great deal of criticism from other Steelers fans of specific players, coaches, actions, decisions, and so on. But when they are perceived as being under attack by non-members of the tribe, they will react with hostility.

I can't speak for your particular tech tribe, but I have perceived something similar among other such people I know. Among themselves, there is self-deprecation, teasing, broad acceptance of criticism, and so on. But at least some people will react with contempt and/or hostility to perceived attacks from non-members of the tribe.



As I noted in another comment, sports leagues and their affiliates deliberately cultivate tribal behavior as part of their marketing strategy. Other industries sometimes do that too--indeed, brand loyalty in general is somewhat based on tribalism--but tribalism in a very overt form is central to the business model of sports.
Very interesting response and insight, thanks.

Anyone want to weigh on the specific points I made? I'm curious about those specifics as well.
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:06 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
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Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
ALL human societies are still "quasi-tribal" in one way or another. Sports fans in particular exhibit tribalism everywhere there are league sports (note that Steelers have absolutely nothing on soccer hooligans), behavior which is deliberately encouraged in part because that is how sports league can become so lucrative.

So you don't need an explanation for why people in Pittsburgh exhibit tribalism, other than to note they are members of the same species as other humans. And you don't need much more of an explanation to explain why people in Pittsburgh exhibit tribalism about sports--that sort of thing is deliberately encouraged by sports leagues and their affiliates (including in the media) as a way of competing for entertainment dollars.
Exactly, I've lived three places where there is very high level of support for a sports team -- here, State College and Manchester in the UK. I don't see a huge difference in behavior.
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by squarian View Post
I think a more specific explanation is necessary in order to answer the question posed above by Carl. Tribalism is a basic human trait, of course, but cultural variations can modify its intensity.
I don't actually think people in Pittsburgh are uniquely intense when it comes to sports tribalism. Of course not all places are intense about sports tribalism, but at least many places are similarly intense, or indeed arguably more intense, when it comes to sports tribalism. So I really don't see something that needs much explanation--Pittsburgh is just one of many places where sports tribalism is somewhat (but not uniquely) intense.

If you want a general explanation as to why sports leagues tend to generate fairly intense tribalism in at least some places, I think it is basically because they are deliberately encouraging that. In most modern developed countries, they are doing that primarily for pecuniary reasons, although of course there is also a long history of governments using sports tribalism to help achieve various political ends.
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:15 AM
 
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Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
I don't actually think people in Pittsburgh are uniquely intense when it comes to sports tribalism. Of course not all places are intense about sports tribalism, but at least many places are similarly intense, or indeed arguably more intense, when it comes to sports tribalism. So I really don't see something that needs much explanation--Pittsburgh is just one of many places where sports tribalism is somewhat (but not uniquely) intense.

If you want a general explanation as to why sports leagues tend to generate fairly intense tribalism in at least some places, I think it is basically because they are deliberately encouraging that. In most modern developed countries, they are doing that primarily for pecuniary reasons, although of course there is also a long history of governments using sports tribalism to help achieve various political ends.
I know everyone knows this, but It's just a bit more visible because the team's heyday coincides with our economic disaster (the 70s). People moved and you see Steeler/Pittsburgh enclaves all around the country.
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:19 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Tinare View Post
here, State College and Manchester in the UK.
Pgh and State College, IMO, would constitute essentially the same cultural body, so I wouldn't expect much difference in their kinds of tribalism.

Manchester and "soccer hooliganism" (which Brian mentioned above), though, makes an interesting case. There is an essay on street violence and football in Glasgow in the 1920s & 1930s somewhere which ties into this point very well. Glasgow saw a large influx of Irish Catholic immigration about the same time as Pittsburgh's immigration, c. 1880-1930, and it has two teams, Rangers and Celtics. The basic point of the paper was that the local football rivalry was very closely tied to religious-denominational rivalry, with Scots Calvinists backing Rangers and Irish Catholics backing Celtics. The trajectory of violence essentially followed the trajectory of the Irish "Home Rule" question, dying out gradually as the Irish question was resolved with the creation of the Free State and later the Republic. (Of course, it resurfaced in a nastier way during the Ulster Troubles, when Glaswegians backed their coreligionists across the North Channel with various forms of support.)
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:33 AM
 
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Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
I don't actually think people in Pittsburgh are uniquely intense when it comes to sports tribalism.
I'm not suggesting that Pgh is unique in this respect. It does seem to have a higher and more intense degree of this kind of tribalism than the American or world norm, however. That variation in intensity, certainly proven anecdotally and otherwise a given for purposes of hypothesis, justifies some kind of explanation or inquiry, surely. It's in the interests of all sports teams to broadcast tribalist "team spirit", but their seed falls on more or less fertile soil.
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:57 AM
 
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Originally Posted by squarian View Post
That variation in intensity, certainly proven anecdotally and otherwise a given for purposes of hypothesis, justifies some kind of explanation or inquiry, surely.
Perhaps, although this could well be one of those chaos theory/sensitivity to initial conditions situations which doesn't end up telling a particularly interesting story.

However, if I were going to start with hypotheses, I would indeed just start with the observation that the Steelers have been relatively successful over an extended period, without much local sports competition for people's affections (sort of the Penguins, but hockey just isn't a real competitor for football in most of the U.S.). Personally, to the extent it is even true that Steelers' fans are somewhat more intense than the average major league sports fan in the U.S., that would strike me as a sufficient explanation.

If there was still anything left to explain, the next factor I would add would be the relative lack of in-migration in recent years (I think it is a reasonable hypothesis that in-migrants will tend to dilute the local intensity of tribal feelings for local sports teams).

I'm really very skeptical there is going to be anything left to explain once you include those two factors. The Steelers are pretty popular, but not outside of the range I have encountered in various places.
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Old 11-04-2011, 09:19 AM
 
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It seems to me obvious that attachment to the local team is a part of the broader local culture, and therefore any explanation of differences is logically to be found in the broader local culture. The local culture of Pittsburgh could generally and broadly be described as industrial-working-class of predominately eastern and southern European origin, so that's where I'd start to look for clues. I'm sure there is more to it than your casual explanation allows, but it's not interesting enough to pursue.
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