Mass behavior is collective behavior that takes place when people (who often
are geographically separated from one anther) respond to the same event in
much the same way.
Rumors are unsubstantiated reports on an issue or subject, while
gossip refers to rumors about the personal lives of individuals.
Rumors may spread through an assembled collectivity, or they may spread among
Rumors may be modified as they are spread, and tend to be accepted when no
opposing information is available.
In industrialized societies, rumors come from a wide variety of sources and may be
difficult to trace.
Similarly, gossip may be spread about someone most people have never met
Mass hysteria is a form of dispersed collective behavior that occurs when a
large number of people react with strong emotions and self-destructive
behavior to a real or perceived threat.
Many sociologists believe this behavior is best described as a panic with a dispersed
Fads and fashions
A fad is a temporary but widely copied activity enthusiastically followed by large
numbers of people.
Fashion is a currently valued style of behavior, thinking, or appearance. Fashion
also applies to art, music, drama, literature, architecture, interior design, and
automobiles, among other things.
Fashions tend to be longer lasting.
Simmel, Veblen, and Bourdieu have all viewed fashion as a means of status
Public opinion consists of the attitudes and beliefs communicated by ordinary
citizens to decision makers (as measured through polls and surveys based on
interviews and questionnaires).
Even on a single topic, public opinion will vary widely based on characteristics such
as race, ethnicity, religion, region, residence, social class, education
level, gender, and age.
As the masses attempt to influence elites and vice versa, a two-way process occurs
with the dissemination of propaganda.
Propaganda is information provided by individuals or groups that have a vested interest in
furthering their own cause or damaging an opposing one.
In a word document that you will upload into the appropriate dropbox
respond to the following question(s).
What are some current fads and recent fashions? How long do you think they will
last? What do you think of Simmel, Veblen, and Pierre’s idea that fashion is linked
to social class?
social movement is an organized group that acts
consciously to promote or resist change through
movements are more likely to develop in
industrialized societies than in preindustrial societies;
diversity and a lack of consensus contribute to
demands for social change.
Social movements are more likely to emerge when
people view their problems as public issues that
cannot be solved without a collective response.
Most social movements rely on volunteers to carry out
their work. Women have been strongly represented in
both membership and leadership of many grassroots
These seek to improve society by changing some specific aspect of the social
Examples include labor movements, animal rights movements, Mothers Against
Drunk Driving, and the disability rights movement.
Some of these movements arise to change responses to stigmatized groups
(e.g., civil rights and gay rights movements).
These seek to bring about a total change in society.
Terrorism is the calculated, unlawful use of physical force or threats of violence
against persons or property in order to intimidate or coerce a
government, organization, or individual for the purpose of gaining some
political, religious, economic, or social objective.
These seek to produce radical change in individuals and typically are based on
spiritual or supernatural belief systems.
Some religious movements are millenarian, which forecast that the “end” is near
and assert that a change in behavior is imperative.
These seek limited change in some aspect of people's behavior (e.g., a movement
that attempts to get people to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages).
New Age movements, vegetarianism, and yoga are often grouped here.
These seek to prevent or to undo change that already has occurred.
Examples include radical anti-abortionists.
Stages in social movements
In the preliminary stage, widespread unrest is present as people begin to become
aware of a threatening problem. Leaders emerge to agitate others into taking
In the coalescence stage, people begin to organize and start making the threat
known to the public. Some movements become formally organized at local and
In the institutionalization stage, an organizational structure develops, and a paid
staff (rather than volunteers) begins to lead the group.
How do reform movements differ from revolutionary movements? Why is
terrorism a potential threat to societal stability?