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Lecture 12

SOCIOL 2D06 Lecture 12: Collective Behaviour FINAL

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McMaster University
Sarah Clancy

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 Collective Behaviour Collective Behaviour • We have “collective memories” or “shared memories”
 - Term was coined in 1920s by Samuel Henry Principle in regards to “...the great Halifax, Nova Scotia explosion of 1917”
 - The notion is there is something bringing us to together to act and think in a similar way
 - For example, being apart of the social psychology faculty • “Pioneer of collective behaviour” was Gustave LeBon
 - Main individual to begin to study and understand collective behaviour • Early theorists in collective behaviour saw collective movements as “irrational” and as “odd” • In 1960s change in understanding from earlier studies
 - Crowds or collective movements were not “bizarre” or “helpless” like believed earlier Principles of Collective Behaviour 1970s where systematic studies on civil rights movements and disorders, sports, etc., • lead by McPhail
 - Study individuals who congregated in large massive crowds
 - This work disputed earlier research and findings since he showed they were not coming together irrational purposes but for a specific purpose such as awareness or entertainment • 1980s where “collective behaviour” moved to “collective action”
 - Showing there is an intent and purpose rather than an irrational behaviour • “Collective action” refers to “...people’s behaviour when they collectively celebrate, mourn, worship, protest, compete in athletics, or confront disaster”
 - “Social movements” are a formed out of collective action “...designed to produce new social orders” which was coined by Blumer
 - Social movements are grassroots where we can have various social movements 1 Wednesday, March 22, 2017 Symbolic Interactionism and Collective Behaviour (1) Mass hysteria theory or contagion theory (LeBon) • Membership in group = “...shared emotional bond” and potential loss of rational thought
 - What is happening to cause people to bind together and work together to create a contagious mental unity
 - We often see people trying to break away from a system or create a new system • Related to Darwinian theory: when we succumb to our emotions, we become more primitive (very patriarchal and male-centric)
 - We act irrationality and in the moment while not being concerned with the consequences and feeding into the frenzy 3 key elements:
 1. Limited control or lax inhibitions/restrictions about behaviour
 2. Consensus about ideas or actions
 3. Lack of rational thought or decision-making Critiques:
 1. Does not reveal why people join collective movements
 2. What criticisms did Freud and Merton level against contagion theory? • For example, Mass Hysteria: The “End of the World” 1. Y2K crisis on 01/01/2000: ABCNews. (2000). “Jan. 3, 2000: No Y2K Problems.” Retrieved from problems-9345324
 - In 2000, panic amongst financial industries and computer companies because we had not experienced a time change to ‘000’
 - Concern that things would crash and the world would end
 - The newscasts were giving ominous vibes and the next day discussed it and ways to improve 2. End of the Mayan Calendar on 12/12/12: CNN. (2012). “The world survives 'doomsday’.” Retrieved from bestoftv/2012/12/21/nr-michio-kaku-end-of-the-world-2012.cnn.html
 - The end of the Mayan Calendar which creates hysteria because it implies the world is going to end
 - Individuals were selling their property and draining their finances
 - Something of a different culture can be taken over and abused by another such as 2 Wednesday, March 22, 2017 cultural appropriation of the Mayan calendar
 - This hysteria can be created by being unaware of the calendar or not knowing anything about the calendar Both of these events show how mass hysteria can bring people together in collective • action at both micro and macro levels of social life (2) Circular Reaction theory by Blumer • More “objective” than LeBon’s theory
 - Does not impose as many values or beliefs Connecting the role of emotions in group arrangements that brings them to form • collective identities and engage in collection action • Key terms and points:
 1. Milling refers to people “...gather[ing] together and then to anxiously move about in a seemingly aimless and random fashion because they have no directive focus”; can be “intense” since it is growing from a small circle to a larger one
 2. When “milling” is “intense” = “circular reaction”
 - Be in stage of milling until we have a purpose or goal
 3. “Acting crowds” who form to achieve a particular goal
 4. “Expressive crowds” who do not have sets goals but are “...setting[s] for tension release” but not to meet a goal or achieve a sort of end
 5. Public crowds : Groups of similar people with a similar cause or interest in an issue, generally smaller and smaller community to keep the focus
 6. Mass crowds : “Anonymous” individuals, often dissimilar, not organized or centred on a particular interest or cause since there are so many people (3) Rational Choice theory • Look at “collective action” and that people have agency and ability to make their own logical choices and decisions in collective action
 - Focuses on “constraint” rather than “contagion” and looks at diverse or “differential” composition of group members
 - Emergent norm theory refers to group coming together to accepting rules, identifying constraints, etc., of a group and negotiate around constraining environment • Another aspect that comes into play is a cost/benefit analysis • Fluidity and change are evident features
 - Based on decisions made, the context or social situations 3 Wednesday, March 22, 2017 • People manage and modify depending on circumstance therefore most decisions are rational in nature • Turner and Killian identify 4 types of crowd participants in collective action:
 1. Ego-involved — not there for the goodness of helping others but a self-invested interest
 2. Concerned — invested in personal state but a more altruistic nature of what is going to happen to others
 3. Insecure — not sure why they are, not comfortable being a part of crowd but there is still a reason they are there such as someone asking them to come but less committed
 4. Curiosity seeker — most crowd member, no vested stack in the movement, but curious as to what is happening, seek and gather information • Emotional attachment, exp
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