Authenticity at Burning Man

To validate worth or confer esteem, people seek out what sociologists call authenticity—that sense of meaning and dignity, or a connection with other people and experiences. As the desert art event Burning Man enters its third decade, some hard-core “Burners” believe the event’s longevity, exponential population growth, and increasingly complex rules and regulations have eroded its authenticity. Others view change as a creative process crucial to the event’s rejuvenation.