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Collective Behavior and Social Movements
Collective behavior can result in social change through the formation of cohesive social movements. Collective behavior might also be defined as action that is neither conforming in which actors follow prevailing norms nor deviant in which actors violate those norms. Rather, collective behavior, a third form of action, takes place when norms are absent or unclear, or when they contradict each other. Scholars have devoted far less attention to collective behavior than they have to either conformity or deviance.
Examples of collective behavior include: religious revival meetings like those depicted in the documentary Marjoe , a panic in a burning theater e. These diverse actions fall within the area sociologists call collective behavior. Traditionally in sociology, collective behavior is displayed by four types of groupings of people: the crowd, the public, the mass, and the social movement.
Types of Social Movements : The four types of social movements, as described by cultural anthropologist David Aberle. Collective behavior can actually change elements of society. On March 7, , African American leaders led a march of people in an attempt to walk the 54 miles 87 km from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery.
Only six blocks into the march, however, state troopers and local law enforcement attacked the peaceful demonstrators with billy clubs, tear gas, rubber tubes wrapped in barbed wire, and bull whips. They drove the marchers back to Selma. The national broadcast showing footage of lawmen attacking unresisting marchers seeking the right to vote provoked a national response. Eight days after the first march, Lyndon Johnson delivered a televised address to garner support for the voting rights bill he had sent to Congress.
In it he stated:. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of on August 6. The Act suspended poll taxes, literacy tests, and other subjective voter tests. It authorized Federal supervision of voter registration in states and individual voting districts where such tests were being used.
The act had an immediate and positive impact for African Americans. Within months of its passage, , new black voters had been registered. Within four years, voter registration in the South had more than doubled. Understanding how to organize a social movement to pursue social change is one of the areas studied by sociologists. The insights gained from these studies can provide movement members the tools they need to succeed. Stages of Social Movements : The different stages of social movements, as adapted from Blumer , Mauss and Tilly A riot is a form of civil disorder characterized by disorganized groups lashing out in a sudden and intense rash of violence, vandalism, or other crime.
While individuals may attempt to lead or control a riot, riots are typically chaotic and exhibit herd-like behavior. Riots often occur in reaction to a perceived grievance or out of dissent. Historically, riots have occurred due to poor working or living conditions, government oppression, taxation or conscription, conflicts between races or religions, the outcome of a sporting event, or frustration with legal channels through which to air grievances.
Social Change Collective behavior can result in social change through the formation of cohesive social movements. Learning Objectives Analyze a real-life example, such as the Voting Rights Act, in terms of social change. Key Takeaways Key Points Collective behavior can be distinguished from group behavior, and it is also distinct from deviant and conforming actions.
Collective behavior can be observed in four types of groupings of people: the crowd, the mass, the public, and social movements, although other phenomena, such as fads and rumors, are also considered to be forms of collective behavior.
Studying collective behavior improves our understanding of how to organize social movements to initiate social change. There are two main reasons for studying collective behavior. First, to reduce the damage caused by events such as natural disasters and riots by understanding how people behave in these situations; second, studying collective behavior improves our understanding of how to organize social movements in order to initiate social change.
A crowd is an assembly of people who come together with a shared purpose or intent, and have an influence over one another. The four type of crowds, as identified by Herbert Blumer, are casual, conventional, expressive and acting. Diffuse crowds are crowds that are scattered across large distances.
Posited by Gustave Lebon in , contagion theory asserts that crowds have a hypnotic influence over their members, which, combined with the anonymity that individuals in a crowd can enjoy, leads to irrational and emotional behavior.
Convergence Theory proposes that crowd behavior is the product of like-minded individuals coming together and is not an inherent characteristic of the crowd itself. A combination of the theories of convergence and contagion, the emergent- norm theory states that crowd behavior is the product of the convergence of like-minded people, the sense of anonymity in a crowd and shared emotions.
Underlying this theory is the symbolic-interactionist perspective. Moreover, seeings crowds as gatherings also refutes the idea that crowds can impair judgment. A panic is a sudden terror which dominates thinking and can affect groups of people.
A moral panic is a mass movement that arises when an invidual or group, frequently a minority or subculture, is perceived to be a threat to society. A riot is a form of civil disorder that is characterized by disorganized groups lashing out and disturbing the peace in a sudden and intense rash of violence, vandalism or other crime.
Riots typically reflect grievance or a sense of dissatisfaction with existing conditions. Unlike a mob, a riot is violent crowd behavior without a specific objective. A fad is a fashion that gains salience quickly in a culture or subculture, and remains popular for a brief period of time before losing its appeal dramatically. A rumor is an unverified account or explanation of events circulating from person to person and pertaining to an object, event, or issue in public concern.
Key Terms riot : Wanton or unrestrained behavior; uproar; tumult. Collective behavior : The expression collective behavior was first used by Robert E. But even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.
And we shall overcome. Licenses and Attributions. CC licensed content, Shared previously.
Smelser’s Theory of Collective Behaviour
Mobilization: An International Quarterly 1 March ; 1 1 : 1— Emergent norm theory is clarified and expanded through analysis of the processes and circumstances by which the normative element emerges and persists in general and in collective behavior and collective action. An interdependency in risk principle is suggested, coupled with triggering conditions to evoke a specifically moral sense. The paper concludes with brief discussions of the sources of normative content and social structural conditions that are conducive to normative emergence. Sign In or Create an Account. User Tools.
Collective behavior can result in social change through the formation of cohesive social movements. Collective behavior might also be defined as action that is neither conforming in which actors follow prevailing norms nor deviant in which actors violate those norms. Rather, collective behavior, a third form of action, takes place when norms are absent or unclear, or when they contradict each other. Scholars have devoted far less attention to collective behavior than they have to either conformity or deviance. Examples of collective behavior include: religious revival meetings like those depicted in the documentary Marjoe , a panic in a burning theater e. These diverse actions fall within the area sociologists call collective behavior. Traditionally in sociology, collective behavior is displayed by four types of groupings of people: the crowd, the public, the mass, and the social movement.
Collective behaviour , the kinds of activities engaged in by sizable but loosely organized groups of people. Episodes of collective behaviour tend to be quite spontaneous, resulting from an experience shared by the members of the group that engenders a sense of common interest and identity. Included in collective behaviour are the activities of people in crowds, panics, fads, fashions, crazes, publics, cults, and followings as well as more organized phenomena, such as reform and revolutionary social movements. Because it emphasizes groups, the study of collective behaviour is different from the study of individual behaviour, although inquiries into the motivations and attitudes of the individuals in these groupings are often carried out. Collective behaviour resembles organized group behaviour in that it consists of people acting together; but it is more spontaneous—and consequently more volatile and less predictable—than is behaviour in groups that have well-established rules and traditions specifying their purposes, membership, leadership, and method of operation.
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A social movement is a loosely organized effort by a large group of people to achieve a particular goal, typically a social or political one. It is a type of group action and may involve individuals , organizations or both. Definitions of the term are slightly varied. Political science and sociology have developed a variety of theories and empirical research on social movements. For example, some research in political science highlights the relation between popular movements and the formation of new political parties  as well as discussing the function of social movements in relation to agenda setting and influence on politics.
Critiques, Concepts, Case-Studies
The American Sociological Association submission portal will open on Nov. Announcing the Collective Behavior and Social Movements call for award nominations for Please read on for details on qualifications, submission process, and award committee memberships. Social Movement Studies. Covid is affecting many dimensions of social and political life. The pandemic and its political and social consequences present challenges to social movements in various ways. Lockdowns and restrictions have complicated many prominent forms of mobilization — such as street protests.
This chapter is devoted to the mechanisms of engagement and disengagement in collective action as they are currently conceived in social and political psychology. Dynamics of collective action are decomposed into dynamics of demand, supply, and mobilization. Dynamics of demand are about people and their motives, dynamics of supply about organizations and their appeals, and dynamics of mobilization about the convergence of demand and supply. So far, the core business of political psychology has been the demand side of protest. This chapter describes five core concepts affecting collective action participation: grievances, efficacy, identity, emotions, and embeddedness.
Although social movements differ in size, they are all essentially collective. That is, they result from the more or less spontaneous coming together of people whose relationships are not defined by rules and procedures but who merely share a common outlook on society. Collective behaviour in crowds, panics, and elementary forms milling, etc. When short-lived impulses give way to long-term aims, and when sustained association takes the place of situational groupings of people, the result is a social movement. A movement is not merely a perpetuated crowd, since a crowd does not possess organizational and motivational mechanisms capable of sustaining membership through periods of inaction and waiting.