Collective Behavior - I Collective Behavior A Collective behavior is characterized by a group of people who bypass the usual norms governing their

Collective Behavior - I Collective Behavior A Collective...

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I.Collective BehaviorA.Collective behavior is characterized by a group of people who bypassthe usual norms governing their behavior and do something unusual.It is a broad term and covers a wide range of acts.II.Early Explanations: The Transformation of the IndividualA.In 1852, Charles Mackay concluded that when people were incrowds, they sometimes “went mad” and did “disgraceful andviolent things;” just as a herd of cows will stampede, so can peoplecome under the control of a “herd mentality.”B.Based on Mackay’s idea, Gustave LeBon stressed that the individualis transformed by the crowd.1.In a crowd, people feel anonymous, not accountable for whatthey do; they develop feelings of invincibility, believing thattogether they can accomplish anything. A collective minddevelops.2.They become highly suggestible; this paves the way forcontagion, a kind of collective hypnosis, which releases thedestructive instincts that society has so carefully repressed.C.To LeBon’s analysis, Robert Park added the ideas of social unrest,which is transmitted from one individual to another, and circularreaction, the back-and-forth communication between the membersof a crowd whereby a “collective impulse” is transmitted.D.Synthesizing both LeBon’s and Park’s ideas, Herbert Blumeridentified five stages that precede what he called an acting crowd.1.A background condition of social unrest exists when people’sroutine activities are thwarted or when they develop new needsthat go unsatisfied.2.An exciting event occurs—one so startling that people arepreoccupied with it.3.People engage in milling—the act of standing or walking aroundas they talk about the exciting event and circular reaction setsin.4.A common object of attention emerges—people’s attentionbecomes riveted on some aspect of the event.5.Stimulation of the common impulses occurs—people collectivelyagree about what they should do. Social contagion, described asa collective excitement passed from one person to another,becomes the mechanism that stimulates these commonimpulses. The end result is an acting crowd. Not all acting
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