Collective Behavior Theories

High School ・Sociology ・MLA ・5 Sources


Collective behavior is the social processes and events that don’t reflect the actual social structure of people by rather come up in a "spontaneous" manner. It gets presented differently, and the presentation goes against the norms of the society. It can be enormously damaging, as with riots, or senseless, as with prevailing trend. It is consistently determined by group dynamics, urging individuals to participate in acts they should never think of under standard social conditions. With the theories of collective behavior, we can understand the reason for different happenings, we can predict what is to happen, we can control what is to happen, and with the theories, we can get the information regarding ‘typical’ behavior (Hogg Michael and Dominic).

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Primary characteristics of the Contagion Theories

The theory contends that groups make individuals act differently. It proposes that crowds apply a kind of mesmerizing impact on individual members. The hypnotic inducing impact consolidated with the obscurity of having a place with a larger group, even only for that time, brings about irrational, sincerely charged conduct. At last, the crowd has accepted its way of doing things, mixing up feelings and driving individuals toward unreasonable, even brutal activity. With the theory, people take individualized life that cannot be changed by personal emotions (Schweingruber, David, and Ronald 138). The crowd has personalized feelings and conduct as opposed to individual behavior. The theory enhances the act of irrationality as individuals lose their hindrances. It allows for any individual to be a leader and the crowd can be either organized or spontaneous. 

            Contagion Theory was so popular and widely accepted in the Western World. Psychologists contended that the practices, feelings, and intuition showed by particular kinds of gatherings were altogether different from the methods that people typically show in their normal daily existence. The theory places that feelings and activities showed by people when in a mob can, one might say, end up noticeably infectious and spread to different individuals from a crowd, the outcome is a distinct type of social activity. With the theory, individuals don't get an opportunity to impart their own ethics and sentiments, and in this way, their convictions, dispositions, and presumptions end up noticeably similar. A few of the elements which describe the degree of impact are quality, recurrence, complexity and asymmetry, in this manner, affecting the connection between individuals from the mob.

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 Role of Rationality/Irrationality in the Theories of Collective Behavior

The collective behavior theories include contagion, emergent norm, value added and socio-cybernetic model. The theory of contagion makes the assumption that collective behavior is passionate and irrational and is the outcome of crowd's hypnotic influence. It is an unreasonable conduct and people included are probably going to get unduly influenced by compelling feelings and the impact of other individuals in the crowds. The theory of convergence accepts that group behaviors mirrors the convictions and aims that people as of now share before they join a group. Mobs don't unduly impact people to act in passionate and even rough manners (Aguirre et al.). Or maybe, the behavior of mobs mirrors the conduct and demeanors of the people who choose to join a group.

The theory of emergent norm accepts that people don't know how to act when they start to communicate in collective behavior. As they talk about their potential conduct, standards administering their conduct develop, and social request and objectivity that guide their behavior. It makes an assumption that standards rise after individuals assemble for collective behavior, and that their conduct a short time later is to a great extent rational. The theory of value-added accepts that collective behavior comes about when a few conditions exist, including necessary strain, summed up convictions, encouraging components, and absence of social control. The conditions need to exist for it to happen.

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Distinctions Between Collective Behavior, Group Behavior, and Crowd Behavior

Collective behavior is not group action as is sometimes understood. The term ‘collective behavior’ has been confined to relatively irrational, unplanned, disorganized, volatile activity that contravenes established rules and normative definitions of society. In short, it is the unified behavior of collectivities that is neither expected nor accepted. This should not mean that collective action entirely lacks organization and random in its formation and direction. An example of group behavior is the interaction among family members or in a more formal sophisticated organization. Within these activities, the behavior is more or less routine and predictable.

            The behavior of the crowd is mostly affected by the loss of obligation of the individual and the impression of comprehensiveness of conduct, both of which increment with the group composition. It mainly comprises of the possibility that becoming a team member serves to open the oblivious personality. This happens on the grounds that the super-sense of self, or right cognizance, is dislodged by the bigger group, to be supplanted by a group pioneer who is charismatic. The mob is a standout amongst the most unconstrained types of collective behavior. It might begin with any combination of in-gatherings, even from the family in the event that it is sufficiently expansive. It might effortlessly emerge from a neighborhood, posse, or intrigue bunches at whatever point the individuals come into close connection with each other.

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Major methodological problems in collecting data on Collective Behavior

The importance of understanding behavior in disasters is crucial. Research, training and arranging can make it more probable that the harm that happens is entirely an aftereffect of the catastrophe and not the human react to it. The occasionally disputable and strange nature of collective behavior subjects and the way that individuals may feel profound about them can offer us information that is typically covered up or inconspicuous. Dormant or underestimated components of social structure may all of a sudden surface or cause trouble. We might be compelled to take a look at society from a different perspective. Subsequently, essential parts of society's working might be uncovered. Issues around social stratification, disparity, basic leadership, the nature and circulation of power and legitimation may come first.

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Works Cited

Aguirre, Benigno E., Dennis Wenger, and Gabriela Vigo. "A test of the emergent norm theory of collective behavior." Sociological Forum. Vol. 13. No. 2. Kluwer Academic Publishers-Plenum Publishers, 1998.

Hogg, Michael A., and Dominic Abrams. Intergroup relations: Essential readings. Psychology Press, 2001.

Phillips, Tim. Charles Mackay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds: A 52 brilliant ideas interpretation. Infinite Ideas, 2009.

Schweingruber, David, and Ronald T. Wohlstein. "The madding crowd goes to school: Myths about crowds in introductory sociology textbooks." Teaching Sociology 33.2 (2005): 136-153.

Smelser, Neil J. Theory of collective behavior. Quid Pro Books, 2011.

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