Collective Behavior


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Collective Behavior

  1. 1. Introduction to Sociology: Collective Behavior
  2. 2. Introduction ● 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 "spontaneous" way. ● 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.
  3. 3. Introduction ● Collective behavior differs from group behavior in three ways: – 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 conventional norms
  4. 4. Crowds ● A crowd is a gathering of people who share a purpose or intent and influence one another. Crowds are a common occurrence in modern life. ● 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)
  5. 5. Contagion Theory ● 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.
  6. 6. Convergence Theory ● 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 coming together. ● 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.
  7. 7. Emergent-Norm Theory ● 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 behavior. ● 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 take place.
  8. 8. Panic ● 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.
  9. 9. Riots ● 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.
  10. 10. Mass Hysteria ● 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 overwhelming fear. ● The term also occurs in the phrase mass hysteria to describe mass public near-panic reactions.
  11. 11. Fads ● 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 popularity dramatically.
  12. 12. Rumors ● 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