This study looks at the fields of anthropology and sociology, and their use of the tribe as a concept, as well as the research assumptions that undergird contemporary work on the Arab situation. It shows how most research uses the term ‘tribe’ without a clear scientific definition, and assumes that ‘tribe’ has in many cases become tantamount to a habitus that orients vision and analysis. This bias particularly affects studies of political phenomena, and seems prevalent in work on the Arab Spring. These studies have – for the last century – been unable to recognize the methodological value of social transformations underway in the region. In an attempt to deconstruct this habitus, the paper asks whether the deconstruction of the problems of the field might have a retroactive effect and work to help reformulate the socio-political history of the Arab world on the basis of more locally attuned research concepts and assumptions.