With Reference from Evidence from Football Violence, Explain What Is Wrong with Common Sense Accounts of Crowd Behaviour?

Topics: Police, Violence, Hooliganism Pages: 5 (1668 words) Published: April 30, 2013
Q1: With reference from evidence from football violence, explain what is wrong with common sense accounts of crowd behaviour INTRO
Common sense accounts of crowd behaviour are typical explanations of crowd events and conflicts that would be proposed by the everyday person; ideas such as ‘agitators’ or the ‘mad mob’. This has become a vastly researched topic in social psychology which has demonstrated major faults in such common sense accounts of crowd behaviour. The issues associated with these types of accounts of crowd behaviour can be explained with reference to instances of football violence; which demonstrate that not all crowds are violent, primitive and irrational groups of people, where thoughts and feelings are spread through the crowd, but instead an originally calm crowd can become violent due to illegitimate and indiscriminate action from the outgroup. The key to understanding why a crowd behaves the way it does lies in the intergroup relations. WHAT COMMON SENSE ACCOUNTS ARE….

Through asking individuals what they believe the true nature of the crowd is, and what activities will surround this, recurrent themes have been found. Common sense accounts suggest that individuals within the crowd have heightened emotionality, which overrides intelligence, and therefore behaviour is much more instinctual and impulsive. In addition it is suggested that crowds are somewhat ‘primitive’, such that individuals are easily overwhelmed and influenced by agitators, and manipulated by their thoughts, intentions and actions. It is suggested that anything can provoke a crowd into violence, and a lack of self-control of individuals can cause the crowd to turn into a ‘mad mob’, an escalation to violence which can occur instantly, providing possibilities for anything to happen. These recurrent themes of common sense accounts of crowd behaviour had lead people to believe that crowds are irrational, indiscriminate and partake in ‘mindless violence’, however continuing research has demonstrated that this may not be the case. LE BON AND ALLPORT

These common sense accounts of crowd behaviour appear to have a lot in common with the early ‘scientific’ accounts of crowd behaviour, such as those by Gustave Le Bon (1965) and Floyd Allport (1924), who present the prejudices seen against crowds in ‘scientific theories’ with the use of experimental evidence to support their theorems. Both Le Bon and Allport suggest that crowds are primitive, over emotional, and that crowd members loose awareness and control of themselves and thus act impulsively and irrationally. Together, Le Bon’s idea of ‘contagion’ and ‘suggestibility’ and Allport’s idea of ‘individualism’ both express similar ideas to common sense accounts, suggesting that with a loss of self, individuals become more susceptible to influence from others, and that minorities of ‘agitators’ who have individual tendencies towards violence can easily spread their thoughts, feelings and therefore intentions of action, through the crowd, thus turning the crowd into a dangerous and irrational ‘mad mob’. COMMON SENSE IN FOOTBALL + PROBLEMS WITH…

These common sense accounts of crowd violence can be applied to ideas of football hooligans and violence occurring at football events; ‘hooligan’ explanations of football crowd violence; suggest that individuals, or groups of people, with predisposed tendencies towards violence gather together to act out their violent urges with crowd contexts (deindividuated) at football matches, with a simple aim to initiate conflict. For example, Dunning (1994) proposes a class structured explanation; he suggests that certain types of people attend football matches, who are typically from working class backgrounds; associated with values of ‘roughness’, and who have not yet been merged into ‘normal’ society. In addition, Kerr (1994) suggests that individuals involved in football violence have abnormal arousal needs, which can only be achieved via...
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