Tree planting is an arduous form of summer work taking place in remote locations across Canada and elsewhere. Planters live in camps during the planting season and work in crews, pushing one another to put as many trees in the ground as possible. We rely on Michel Maffesoli's (1996) ideas on neo-tribalism to examine the group dynamics of tree planting camps and crews, and the emotions of participants, as well as proxemics. Drawing from interviews with tree planters, we conceive of the work of planting as well as celebratory camp revelry as ritualistic. These rituals generate mutual focus on and shared mood concerning risky activities. Outcomes are group solidarity and standards of morality – the basis of a neo-tribal risk culture – that communicate knowledge about how to encounter, experience, construct and attenuate risk while working in the bush. We conclude with a discussion of how this focus on group life, ritual and related emotions contributes to social theories of risk.

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Emotion, Space and Society
Department of Law and Legal Studies

Walby, K. (Kevin), & Spencer, D. (2018). Tree planting as neo-tribalism: Ritual, risk boundaries, and group effervescence. Emotion, Space and Society, 28, 60–66. doi:10.1016/j.emospa.2018.06.006