Principles of Sociology
1.a) What are the various types of collective behavior?
Localized collectivities are collectivities whose members are in close physical proximity. More specifically, a crowd is a temporary gathering where people are in one another immediate vicinity so that they influence each other’s behavior and share a common focus of attention. Herbert Blumer (1969) distinguished different types of crowds. 1. Casual crowds occur when people gather in the same place at the same time with limited interaction so that new norms are less likely to emerge and roles are relatively undifferentiated. People watching street performers or shopping at the mall are a good example of a casual crowd. 2. Conventional crowds occur when a specific event is planned and large numbers of people are scheduled to attend. There is therefore more interaction, specific norms, and role differentiation than in casual crowds. Examples of conventional crowds are parades, funerals, sport events or graduation ceremonies. 3. Expressive crowds occur when large numbers of people gather for the specific purpose of experiencing strong emotions. Religious revival shows, Mardi Gras celebrations or celebrity funerals are examples of such crowds. 4. Acting crowds occur when a collectivity is strongly focused and anger is the dominant emotion. Such crowds are likely to be destructive and violent. Mobs and riots are examples of acting crowds. Mobs are highly emotional and violent crowds that target specific individuals or categories of individuals. Mob violence is usually motivated by fear, or anger. A particular example of mob violence is the practice of lynching (Tolnay and Beck, 1998). Studies indicate that approximately 5,000 African Americans were hung in the Southern states between 1880 and 1930. Although mob violence appears disorganized and chaotic, it can also be planned and used as a means of social control to “keep in line” the black population of a community or as resistance to social change, to discourage attempts at challenging the segregationist status quo. The returned "normality" of the post-lynching is visible as the people on the photo basically "posed" for it (notice the man pointing at the victims as well as the presence of women and couples, as if this were a form of entertainment). Moreover, we know that many lynching photos were made into postcards that people sent to relatives. In the photo, no one seems shocked by what the crowd has done. A few people have smiles on their faces. A riot is a violent form of crowd behavior. However, contrary to a mob, it does not focus on a specific target but is undirected. Riots are more likely to cause property damages than mobs. When whole categories of people feel unjustly treated, that their needs are ignored, or that their mistreatment is somewhat condoned by the authorities, this usually creates a background of tense frustration and a single event can trigger social unrest. The history of the United States is a history of riots, and especially race riots committed by whites against minorities. Most Americans remember the deadly LA riots in April and May of 1992 that started after the acquittal of four police officers in the Rodney King case, but such a riot was not a first. There had been other memorable riots in recent American history: the Watts riot of 1965 and the Miami riot of 1980. However, the 1992 Los Angeles riot is still the deadliest and costliest riot to date: 51 dead, 2,383 injured, 700 businesses burned and at least one billion dollars of property damage Why is it forbidden to shout “fire!” in a crowded theater? Because this would probably start a panic, that is, whether or not there is really a fire, people would start running for the exits quite likely in a disorganized and chaotic manner that would increase the risk of injuries. When such a panic occurred in Mecca...