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During a festival, a loving community is formed. Where does this community feeling come from, so strong and yet so ephemeral? What explains the need for our contemporaries to meet at festivals? Analysis of a growing phenomenon.

Whether seasoned festivalgoers or novices, all of us have been able to observe, in the course of our festive experiences, the sense of community they provide. From this feeling of being linked, we don’t know by what, to the people and the universe they form at this moment. This ephemeral moment that escapes the rest, this bubble outside of time that questions us about the nature of our relationship with the festive and with the other.

The affective community: what is it?

We would be tempted to describe these communities as ephemeral, for it is their shifting character that is striking, although this term is an oxymoron. Rather, the community refers to a certain stability, and is often synonymous with permanence, reproduction, integration. How can a community be ephemeral, express itself only in the moment?

The term community must be understood here in its etymological, not political, sense, i.e. as a group that organizes itself by sharing common things or characteristics.

They are based on affect, the sharing of emotion, feelings experienced in common. In this perspective, the community is characterized less by a project turned towards the future than by the actual realization of the impulse to be together. What better way to describe the public encountered in festivals?

How can we explain the appearance of these communities in our contemporary societies?

Several characteristics, direct or indirect results of our contemporary societies, can explain the need for individuals to come together: the decline of individualism, the importance of the present and the return of affect in the construction of our relationships.

The first factor in the decline of individualism is manifested by the return of the will of the masses to determine the role or roles of each person, in a collective logic. The general saturation of the great economic, ideological and political machineries leads part of the people to refocus on objectives within reach.

We also observe the will of people to live from day to day, in contrast to the values of progress and growth that the institutional order tries to impose on us. The return of destiny, involving shared rituals, pleasure, myths and imaginaries, participates in the constitution of these moving communities, based on passion, with no goal in itself.

To the origins of the community

The festival, or festive event, has always existed. It dates back to the dawn of time; it represents a major exercise in the socialization of the human being, who has always had a natural need to come together, to create a collective, to identify through affinities with others. The festive character is all the more socializing as it often represents a hedonistic moment, of collective gathering around a shared passion.

Anthropologically, the festival is often propitious to the setting in relation of what it is usually necessary to separate: social classes, sex, age, even the living and the dead, the divine and the human, the social and nature. This social mixing is due in particular to the fact that festive time is separated, even set in opposition to “ordinary” times and the conventions of human social life.

Globalization and digitalization of communities

The festival makes it possible to build territorial ideologies by moving from an individual identity discourse to a collective identity discourse. Even if these discourses on place have always existed, observes that consideration of their role has greatly increased with the explosion of population mixing and globalization

Globalization has greatly contributed to the opening of festivals. It therefore also explains the opening of festive communities: originally focused on the local, they are becoming increasingly global.

Digitalization has considerably opened up the thematic field of festivities and festivals. The explosion of the Internet has allowed many subcultures to impose themselves and open up to the general public. We can almost say that digitalization has allowed our contemporary emotional communities to take on their changing character.