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ch.2 theories of collective behavior.docx

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Joe Hermer

CH.2 THEORIES OF COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOR  Theory is an explanation for a general class of phenomena CONTAGION or TRANSFORMATION THEORY  It is how people in collectivities come to behave uniformly, intensely, and at variance with their usual patterns  In a collectivity, mechanisms such as imitation, suggestion and emtl contagion operate in addition to anonymity and restricted attention which neutralize ordinary behavior anchorages  Collective behavior is contagious like a disease. During presence of others, excitement is created and CB is caused due to emotional, irrational and often violent nature  Herbert Blumer- mechanisms of social contagion, how a mood of collective excitement is spread in a form of social interaction he calls a circular reaction. All people have certain impulses, desires, etc.  When state of individual restlessness becomes communicated with others that it becomes contagious and generates a state of general social unrest.  Social unrest is marked by 3 basic characteristics. 1. Ppl gripped byit have urge to act but are unsure of what is they seek. 3. Ppl experience an excited ppl usually in form of vague apprehensions, alarms, fears, insecurity, etc. and these feelings are conducive to rumors and to exaggerated views and perceptions 3. Irritability and increased suggestibility of ppl.  During periods of unrest, 3 basic types of social interaction develop which are milling, collective excitement and social contagion Milling: individuals move arnd amongst one another in aimless and random fashion such as in interweaving of cattle or sheep who are in state of excitement. It makes individuals in such interaction more sensitive and responsive to one another. People in this state much more disposed to act together, under the influence of a common impulse or mood than they are to act separately Collective Excitement: intense form of milling. Excited behavior of some members of collectivity cannot be ignored by others. It compels attention and makes for a loss of normal control. People are more emotionally arouse and more likely to be carried away by impulses and feelings. Social Contagion: it is relatively rapid, unwitting, and non-rational dissemination of a mood, impulse or form of conduct. It generates fads, crazes, mania, etc. It attracts and infects individuals, many of whom originally merely detached and indifferent spectators and bystanders 6 Problems 1. Contagion theory focused on unusual and extreme cases tht most observers would regard as destructive and irrational like riots. Contagion is a process, it refers to the communication of a certain mood in a collective setting. 2. Unwarranted assumption about crowd unity or uniformity. 3. + 4. Unwarranted assumption that people in crowds are anonymous and unaccountable when in fact they are in gathering with others whom they know and whose opinions they value 5. CT assumes tht there is an iron clad rule that, once like-minded individuals gather and begin to get whipped up into an intense emotional state, this mood will inevitably escalate and translate into some kind of behavioral outlet, such as a riot 6. It gives no indication of jst wht crowds, publics, or masses are likely to do in a given situation. Contagion theory does not explain when and how contagion is activated CONVERGENCE OR PREDISPOSITION THEORY  Contagion theory makes the assumption that all like-minded individuals in a given collective situation will be swept up by the fervor of others.  Convergence theory is also called predisposition hypothesis. It says tht ppl act in crowds or publics is an expression or outgrowth of who they are ordinarily. It argues that like-minded ppl come together in, or converge on, a certain location where collective behavior can and will take place where individuals can act out tendencies or traits they had in the first place  The earliest and crudest version of convergence theory is that all people have at least the potential for engaging in collective behavior such as rioting because in doing so they are expressing the savage, brutal, primitive instincts that all of us share  If an opportunity arises, our destructive arises our destructive instincts will overwhelm us and force us to engage in brutal, destructive, and irrational and highly emotional behavior. the convergence of ppl into a collective behavior situation is the cmng together of any and ppl regardless of their characteristics. We all have propensity for engaging in destructive mob behavior although some of us choose not to place ourselves in situations that would permit this to happen  Certain kinds of ppl have propensity to engage in certain kinds of behaviour. Convergence theory argues that a certain kind of individual is drawn to a certain kind of fathering and engages in a certain kind of behaviour  Even if collective behavior is in art an expression of pre-existing latent tendencies, if these tendencies can’t find an appropriate set of circumstances to be expressed, they cannot translate into action.  The individual doesn’t create crowd, mass or public in first place, although gathering take time EMERGENT NORM THEORY  Although there are differences btwn contagion and convergence theory, both perspectives see collective behavior as irrational, destructive, and highly emotional AND they see behaviour of individual participants and their emtl states, as fairly uniform and unanimous AND they generally see collective behavior as violation of conventional norms  ENT sees the above assumptions as false. It argues that collective behavior is no more irrational, destructive, or emotional than conventional behavior; crowds are far more heterogeneous and diverse than casual, unthinking observers believe; and participation in collective behavior doesn’t violate mainstream norms as much as revise them in light of a novel, unique situation for which conventional norms aren’t provided or relevant  How do people see norms as binding, behavior as acceptable, beliefs as true is through interaction with others.  More uncertain the condition, more susceptible individuals are to the suggestions of others and the more influence the group has. CB is not so much a result of freedom from ambiguous situations.  Conventional norms are ambiguous, new norms arise when old ones don’t work. Same with CM, they revise the definition of the norm based on situation and engage in behaviour. individuals in a given collectivity supply or seek justifications for their course of action, communication in a grp setting entails a search to apply a particular norm to a situation in which individual finds himself or herself  During looting, emergence of new norms in an unusual situation where old ones don’t work. Looting is rarely opportunistic behavior, so ppl stealing to tke advantage of the fact they’re unlikely to be caught. Looting rare in disasters but common
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