Communities Resenting Outsiders

There is a phenomenon which I, and I’m sure many other people, have observed where communities (and this can refer to physical communities like villages or nonphysical communities such as professions, social organizations, etc.) resent having outsiders tell them how to “manage” their affairs and will often, I believe, tend to act perversely just to spite the outsiders.

Is there a name for this tendency and does anyone know of any studies of this sort of thing?

Thanks in advance.


Well…I’m thinking more along the lines of how a community reacts to it’s xenophobia.

An example is several years ago when David Duke (an ex-kkk type) ran for some state office in Louisiana. Even though it was only for state senator or something, it got a lot of national attention and various groups traveled to LA from all over the country to protest against him. And the general nature of all this attention was “the whole nation is watching and you folks had better not vote for David Duke.”

Well, it didn’t surprise me that Duke got a lot more votes than anyone thought he was going to get because there is always a certain element who is going to do exactly what “the outsiders” tell them not to do. (He didn’t win, though.)

Now I believe, though of course I can’t prove it, that in this case all of that attention worked to Duke’s advantage. But sometimes it seems to work the other way and I really have no idea why. But that’s what I’m interested in.

Something along the lines of “group dynamics.”

Would this have anything to do with the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

And/or, perhaps, school bussing?


I’m talking about the general concept of a community banding together against outsiders and acting in a fashion which isn’t really in their best interest due to resentment of the outsiders.

Another example would be the village of Hautefaye in France. Around 1880 there was a terrible murder there involving a mob. Although the victim was reasonably popular, when the authorities came in to execute the killers the village united against the authorities simply out of resentment of outsiders.

I’m talking about this general phenomenon.

To get a clear, at home, view of this phenom, find a teenager about to clean his room, and then tell him to clean his room. You will suddenly be looking at someone who would rather die first than clean his room.

I think they call it … “resentment”. It’s valod for a single person as well as a group.

Sorry, I didn’t see that you used the same word in your post. That seems like a perfectly good explanantion to me. Why not just stick with that?


I grew up in a city with close, tight-knight ethnic enclaves. Folks used the word “insular” to describe such areas.

I believe this was the cause of the American Civil War.

I have a comment rather than an answer. We’ve all seen this, I suspect, at work. The new hire who has to prove his/her worthiness before being allowed to become integrated into the department. The number of inside jokes, etc. rise above the norm during meetings just to let the newcomer know he’s still being evaluated by the team. Heaven forbid the new person should offer suggestions for anything new during this “probationary” period. The newcomer’s attitude, of course, has much to do with the length of the probation and the wise newbie will be patient.

The funny thing is that this doesn’t happen all the time. I wonder what makes some groups more cliquish (sp?) than others.

A hint might be found in hunting and sailing jargon. There’s a classic old Punch cartoon of a hunt, where all the people and all the animals are rolling around laughing hysterically at one poor befuddled twit: “The man who called the hounds ‘dogs.’” And as for sailing: whew! Tops’l, tops’ brace, tops’l sheet…spider band and clew garnet!

In both of these activities, someone who doesn’t know the terminology isn’t just a neophyte and an outsider; he is a DANGER. You have to earn our trust; you have to show that you’re willing to learn our jargon. If you don’t care enough to do even that much, then I don’t know that I can trust you in a sticky thornhedge or a lee gale.

Insularity is born of the fact that, alas, when it comes to meeting new people, the newbie is “guilty until proven innocent.”

(It applies on internet message boards, too!)


This topic feeds nicely into some of the discussion over in the recent “Racism is good” debate.

I think you folks know what I’m taking about. It’s just that I think that I remember once seeing a phrase for this, something along the lines of “Stockholm Syndrome” for hostage situations. My memory on this point is so vague though, that I might be wrong.

My ex-husband was from a little village in western Ontario. This area was pretty much founded by Scottish/Irish immigrants many years ago. When his parents moved from the big town of Brantford to this little village, they were accepted because his mother’s family used to own land in the area. People whose families didn’t own land there before moving there were always considered to be ‘new’ to the area.

I think "provincialism"covers the OP’s concept pretty well.

I think a further problem is that groups have multiple (and not necessarily explicit) agendas. One is to perform their stated task, but another is to maintain the group’s status quo - and the latter usually wins.

One of the most irritating and ironic aspects of this is that groups often actively solicit newcomers with new ideas - then freeze them out when they get them. If you’re an expert in Elizabethan costume and you join an amateur theatre club, they will tell you it’s wonderful to have you on the team and how committed they are to improve their standards - but when they put on an Elizabethan play, they will go out of their way to pass you over in favour of old Mrs Uggins who thinks you make a doublet by sewing two singlets together.

All I can say to zigaretten is, “tell me about it”. We moved to a small provincial city a few years ago, and despite treading extremely carefully, have encountered this phenomenon many times.

I guess the Amish would be the extreme example. Indian reservations too.

I think it has to do with the “territorial instinct”. If you have a territory and some nomads come and settle down there, they are always suspect. As to a newcomer in an organization, it obviously isn’t “territorial instinct”, but it is still closely related. That newcomer with his new methods is obviously trying to seize control and change the whole organization or so it seems. “Not invented here” is a very well known phenomenon in the business world. There are always people that are trying to work their way up in an organization by taking credit for things. Some idea that is obviously from somewhere else is hard to claim. These instincts have served mankind well in the past, but can also be a hinderance, as the OP points out.