Part 1: 1,417
Part 2: 221 Words
How might deindividuation theory explain the looting behaviour that sometimes accompanies crowd riots? What are the strengths and limitations of this kind of approach to understanding collective behaviour? (1500 words)
This essay will discuss deindividuation theory in terms of the looting behaviour that sometimes accompanies crowd riots, and then go on to critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of this approach. Deindividuation is “a process of immersion within a group such that members cease to view themselves as separate and distinct individuals” (as cited in Dixon and Mahendran, 2012) Deindividuation is often seen as individuals losing their own personal identity and adopting the identity of the group/crowd they are in. The theory posits that when individuals lose their identity, and take on the identity of the group, this change is negative, and there can only be negative outcomes of individuals losing their own identity and taking on the identity of a group. The model below (figure 1) describes the deindividuation process as suggested by Diener and Prentice-Dunn and Roger’s, it shows their view on crowd behaviour. It clearly shows how the outputs of deindividuation are all negative, and reiterates the idea that change bought around by deindividuation is negative.
Figure 1 a model of the deindividuation process (Dixon and Mahendran, 2012). Critics of deindividuation theory (Social Identity Theory) argue that there can be positive changes from individuals shifting to a group identity, such as civil rights movements, protests/demonstrations and permission granted for gay marriage etc. Looking at the London riots of 2011, it can be said that those who participated in the rioting/looting lost their own identity, whether that be of a housewife, a mother, a teenager with great prospects, or a delinquent, and adopted the identity of the crowd...