Crowds: Sociology and Social Identity

Topics: Sociology, Social psychology, Psychology Pages: 4 (1380 words) Published: April 11, 2014
Explain the place of anonymity in theories of crowd behaviour . Is it always associated with a 'loss of self '

It's claimed feelings of anonymity from the security of being in the crowd encourages individuals to behave outside of their normal constraints , producing unpredictable and violent outcomes . This notion was put forward by Le Bon , one of the founders of crowd psychology research , and has been carried forward in subsequent de -individuation theories of crowd behaviour . This assignment , however , will argue power relations are present in the use of these explanations . Also it will show , De - individuation theory research and its focus on establishing a relationship between anonymity and aggression , fails to address peoples own perceptions of being in a group or the wider context , due to its outside perspective . Here , it's argued the inside perspective from a social identity approach shows there is no anonymity within the crowd , and behaviour is very much constrained by group expectations , relevant to the context .

Le Bon's work , cited in Dixon & Mahendran (2012) , and his idea of a ' group mind , where people succumb to a 'hypnotic influence' through a process termed 'contagion ' , has influenced subsequent research in crowd psychology . Arguing individuals behave in ways they would not normally do when in large numbers , he considered crowds to be dangerous , unpredictable and needing to be controlled , going on to note how when in groups individuals become easily manipulated . However , to Dixon & Mahendran (2012) his research was based on distant observation of crowds of the lower classes , of which he was not a member .

Taking forward the idea of a group mind , Festinger et al , cited in Dixon & Mahendran (2012) propose instead a concept of de-individuation . Arguing ,when members of a crowd feel anonymous from being one amongst many they can also feel less accountable as an 'individual identity' . In addition to this ,...
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