● The term Collective behavior refers to social processes and
events which do not reflect existing social structure (laws,
conventions, and institutions), but which emerge in a
● Collective behavior might also be defined as action which is
neither conforming (in which actors follow prevailing norms) nor
deviant (in which actors violate those norms).
● Collective behavior, a third form of action, takes place when
norms are absent or unclear, or when they contradict each other.
● Collective behavior differs from group behavior in
– collective behavior involves limited and short-lived social
interaction while groups tend to remain together longer
– collective behavior has no clear social boundaries; anyone
can be a member of the collective while group membership
is usually more discriminating
– collective behavior generates weak and unconventional
norms while groups tend to have stronger and more
● A crowd is a gathering of people who share a purpose or intent
and influence one another. Crowds are a common occurrence in
● Blumer (1951) differentiated four types of crowds:
– casual - loose collection of people with no real interaction (e.g, people
at the mall)
– conventional - deliberately planned meeting (e.g., community meeting
organized by political leaders)
– expressive - depicts a crowd at an emotionally charged event (e.g., a
political rally or soccer game in Europe or Latin America)
– acting - a crowd intent on accomplishing something (e.g., fans rushing
a stage during or after a concert)
● Contagion theory proposes that crowds exert a
hypnotic influence on their members.
● The hypnotic influence, combined with the anonymity
of belonging to a large group of people, results in
irrational, emotionally charged behavior.
● This also implies that the behavior of a crowd is an
emergent property of the people coming together and
not a property of the people themselves.
● Convergence theory argues that the behavior of
a crowd is not an emergent property of the
crowd but is a result of like-minded individuals
● In other words, if a crowd becomes violent (a
mob or riot), convergence theory would argue
that this is not because the crowd encouraged
violence but rather because people who wanted
to become violent came together in the crowd.
● Emergent-Norm Theory combines the above two theories,
arguing that it is a combination of like-minded individuals,
anonymity, and shared emotion that leads to crowd
● This theory takes a symbolic interactionist approach to
understanding crowd behavior.
● It argues that people come together with specific
expectations and norms, but in the interactions that follow
the development of the crowd, new expectations and norms
can emerge, allowing for behavior that normally would not
● Panic is a sudden terror which dominates
thinking and often affects groups of people.
● Panics typically occur in disaster situations,
such as during a fire, and may endanger the
overall health of the affected group.
● A riot is a form of civil disorder characterized by disorganized groups lashing
out in a sudden and intense rash of violence, vandalism or other crime.
● While individuals may attempt to lead or control a riot, riots are typically
chaotic and exhibit herd-like behavior.
● Riots often occur in reaction to a perceived grievance or out of dissent.
● Historically, riots have occurred due to poor working or living conditions,
government oppression, taxation or conscription, conflicts between races or
religions, the outcome of a sporting event, or frustration with legal channels
through which to air grievances.
● Hysteria is a diagnostic label applied to a state
of mind, one of unmanageable fear or
emotional excesses. People who are
"hysterical" often lose self-control due to the
● The term also occurs in the phrase mass
hysteria to describe mass public near-panic
● A fad, also known as a craze, refers to a
fashion that becomes popular in a culture (or
subcultures) relatively quickly, remains popular,
often for a rather brief period, then loses
● A rumor is often viewed as "an unverified account or explanation of
events circulating from person to person and pertaining to an object,
event, or issue in public concern" (p. 33)
● Rumors generally involve some kind of a statement the veracity of
which is not quickly or ever confirmed.
● Rumors have three basic characteristics
– they're transmitted by word of mouth
– they provide "information" about a person, happening, or condition
– they express and gratify the emotional needs of the community