Soc Notes Week 14 - Collective Groups

10.) Describe social movement and social change.Comparing various forms of collective behavior: i.e., mobs, riots, fads, crowds // Ident major social issues facing modern society: i.e., ethics of technology & gov // Contrasting the impact of the modern Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Movement, the Gun Rights Movement, & Environmental Movement in the USA 

1.       What is Collective Behavior

a.        Collective Behavior:

i.      spontaneous, unstructured, and transitory behavior of a group of people in response to a specific event.

ii.      All behaviors involving more than one person

b.       Institutionalized Behavior:

 i.      Recurrent and following an orderly pattern with a relatively stable set of goals, expectations, and values

c.        An example of the institutionalized (routine, predictable) behavior would be going to class, to church, or riding in a car. If some unusual event takes place – an earthquake, wreck, fire – then collective behavior takes over

d.       When people are confronted with an unfamiliar event for which no norms or rules have been established, they may behave in ways that differ radically from their normal conduct

i.      People generally leave a theater in a calm, orderly fashion without pushing or shouting. However, if a fire breaks out, their conventional behavior would change to screams, shoving, and a rush for the exits.

 ii.      The ordinary norms break down and are replaced by new ones.             

e.       By understanding the preconditions of collective behavior or how spatial proximity affects crowds, architects, designers, and city planners might be able to create more effective ways to channel large numbers of people. Concert halls, shopping centers, sports arenas, convention halls, apartment complexes, subways, airports, etc., could be designed in ways that impede the formation of collective behavior

2.       Preconditions of Collective Behavior

a.        Some specific conditions in contemporary societies tend to increase the likelihood of collective behavior

b.       Rapid social change creates tensions and conflicts that sometimes lead to collective actions and violence

i.      Egypt

 ii.      Tunisia

iii.      Libya

 iv.      Yemen

 v.      Michigan vs Michigan State games in Lansing

c.        Social diversity and the associated inequalities in the distribution of wealth and opportunities have produced many social movements

i.      Women’s suffrage

 ii.      Gray Panthers

  iii.      Civil rights

iv.      Labor movements

1.       Wisconsin

2.       Detroit

d.       Mass media also help to disseminate information

i.      Cabbage Patch dolls

 ii.      Pet Rocks

 iii.      Prison riots

 iv.      Ghetto riots of 1960s

e.       Neil Smelser in Theory of Collective Behavior (1962) identified 6 factors that, when they exist simultaneously, will produce collective behavior

i.      Structural conduciveness

1.       The society’s structure make things possible

a.        If no stock market can’t have stock market crash

b.       If only one race can’t have race riots

c.        If only one religion can’t have religious riots

2.       Structural conduciveness – the existence of banks, stock markets, or different religious or racial groups – does not cause collective behavior; rather, it is a measure of the existence of conditions in which it can occur

  ii.      Structural strain

1.       Any kind of conflict or ambiguity that causes frustration and stress.

2.       May be caused by read and ideal norms, by conflicts between goals and the available means to reach them (anomie), or by the gap between social ideals (full employment, poverty, and discrimination by age, race, and gender).

iii.      Generalized belief

1.       People must identify a problem and share a common interpretation of it for collective action to occur

2.       People must share a perception of some injustice or unfair treatment

3.       May be based on known facts, shared attitudes, or a common ideology

4.       The truth or accuracy of the beliefs is unimportant – the important thing is that they are shared

 iv.      Precipitating factors

1.       A precipitating event must trigger a collective response.

2.       The precipitating event itself is sometimes fairly insignificant

a.        Ex: unwarranted search may start a collective protest in overcrowded prison

b.       Ex: commodity trading may proceed well until a rumor arises that frost has severely damaged the orange harvest

c.        Ex: banks do well until rumor goes around that a run is occurring

d.       Ex: news that police shot a minority leads to racial tension

3.       Even an unfounded rumor can lend focus and support to a belief and can increase the likelihood of a collective response

v.      Mobilizations for action

1.       Once a precipitating factor has occurred, people have to be persuaded to join the movement.

2.       Sometimes, an event mobilizes a group spontaneously

a.        The crowd boos the umpire for making a bad call

b.       Crowds panic when someone yells “fire”


vi.      Operation of social control

1.       Actions of the mass media, government, and other groups when they try to suppress or influence collective behavior

a.        In the case of a potential strike, management might listen to grievances, make a few changes, or raise wages slightly

b.       If strike occurs, management may fire workers


 i.      President Reagan did this with air traffic controllers

f.         My opinion: there is a 7th element:


i.      Bandwagon approach

1.       Riding the Train…

2.       If it’s in the air… it spreads

3.       Social Measures to Halt Collective Behavior

a.        Turner and Killian (1987) state 4 ways that members of the “power structure” – the police, the courts, religious authorities, community leaders, and so forth – attempt to control collective behavior

b.       (1) Repressive Measures


i.      Banning public assemblies


 ii.      forbidding the publication of subversive views


iii.      punishing individuals who challenge the authorities


iv.      this form of social control is likely to be employed in repressive societies

1.       Ex: 1980s South African government outlawed the African National Congress (ANC) when ABN tried to mobilize black South Africans to overthrow established order of racial segregation known as “apartheid.”

2.       Ex: 1989 the Chinese gov used military force to suppress a democratic revolution by its citizens

3.       Ex: 2011 Libya

4.       Ex: 2011 Yemen

5.       Ex: 2011 Bahrain


v.      Problem: denying the civil liberties of some citizens is likely to be perceived by the populace as reducing freedom for the society in general


 vi.      Problem: sometimes gov force can have the opposite effect

1.       Ex: 2011 Egypt and other mid east and north Africa

2.       Ex: 1991 Soviet Union. There was an attempted coup d’etat in what was then Soviet Union, in which Mikhail Gorbachev was temporarily ousted from power. At the same time, military tanks filled the streets of Moscow to demonstrate the forceful intentions of those who attempted to take over. Gorbachev resigned and SU disbanded into independent states

c.        (2) Role of Police, military, National Guard, or other formal agent


i.      Used to restrain or break up situations in which large numbers of people pose a threat to an existing social order


ii.      This differs from Repressive Measures in that it does not necessarily represent a repressive political or social policy, but can be purely situational

1.       Ex: Los Angeles with Rodney King

d.       (3) Hidden Repression


i.      A means of controlling collective behavior that is not obviously or overtly repressive


ii.      Typically occurs when governments manipulate the news through press releases, staged press conferences, and news “leaks.’


iii.      The knowledge that the media have the power to help mobilize people to action is important not only because it can be a means of social control, but because it helps define the limits of responsible journalism.

1.       Ex: economy of 2008 – present

e.       Social control through Amelioration


i.      Ameliorate (to make better)


ii.      Refers to the elimination of the source of strain that lies behind the collective behavior through the creation of specific policies

1.       Ex: if high unemployment in a specific racial group, the gov creates policy to create jobs for that group

2.       Ex: CIA recruitment on college campuses stressed some, so they changed their recruitment policy and look elsewhere

4.       Spatially Proximate Collective Behaviors: Crowds

a.        Characteristics of Crowds


 i.      Spatially proximate collective: exists when people are geographically close and physically visible to one another


ii.      Crowd: a temporary group of people in face to face contact who share a common interest or focus of attention

1.       Crowds have 4 features

a.        (1) Anonymity: People who do not know those around them may behave in ways that they would consider unacceptable if they were alone or with their family or neighbors.


i.      During a riot, anonymity makes it easier for people to steal, loot, or be violent.


 ii.      The anonymity of the individuals shifts to the crowd itself.

b.       (2) Suggestible: because crowds are relatively unstructured and often unpredictable, crowd members are often highly suggestible


i.      People who are seeking direction in an uncertain situation are highly responsive to the suggestions of others and become very willing to do what a leader or group of individuals suggests, esp given the crowd’s anonymity

c.        (3) Contagion: interactional amplification


 i.      Closely linked to anonymity and suggestibility


 ii.      As people interact, the crowd’s response to the common event or situation increases in intensity.

1.       If they are clapping or screaming, their behavior is likely to move others to clap or scream


iii.      Contagion increases when people are packed close together

1.       An alert evangelist, comedian, or rock singer will try to get the audience to move close to one another to increase the likelihood of contagion and to encourage the listeners to get caught up in the mood, spirit, and activity of the crowd

a.        Ex: pep rallies at school


iv.      Magnification

1.       Is like biomagnifications…. Closer to center the stronger??? Ripple effect.

d.       (4) Emotional arousal


i.      Anonymity, suggestibility, and contagion tend to arouse emotions.


ii.      Inhibitions are forgotten, and people become emotionally charged to act.


 iii.      Sometimes emotional involvement encourages people to act in uncharacteristic ways

1.       Ex: at concerts the rush to the stage

2.       Ex: at Mardi Gras to get the beads

5.       Types of Crowds

a.       Casual crowd:


i.      Non-emotional, unstructured crowd

1.       Ex: people who stop to watch a street musician

b.       Conventional Crowd:


i.      More highly structured

1.       Ex: spectators at a sporting event, a concert, ride on a airplane, AEA or labor union convention

2.       Ex: people behave according to a set of rules: clapping when the song or speech is over.

c.        Acting Crowd:


i.      Attracts the most public attention


 ii.      Behavior of which is centered around and typifies aroused impulses

1.       Mobs: groups that are emotionally aroused and ready to engage in violent behavior

a.        Generally short lived and highly unstable

b.       Most mobs are predisposed to violence before their actions are triggered by a specific event

c.        Ex: French Revolution

d.       Ex: Lynch mobs during 1950s – 60s

2.       Riots: collective actions involving mass violence and mob actions

a.        The targets of their hostility and violence are less specific that those of mobs and the groups involved are more diffuse

b.       Ex: race riots: 76 race riots between 1913 and 1963 in US       

6.       Stopping Crowds and their negative behaviors

a.        Turner and Killian (1987). These 5 steps are based on the knowledge that anonymity, suggestibility, contagion, and emotional arousability underlie much collective violence


 i.      Removal or isolation of the individuals involved in the precipitating incident before the crowd achieves substantial unity


 ii.      Interruption of communication during the milling process by dividing the crowd into small units


iii.      Removal of the crowd leaders, if it can be done without use of force


iv.      Distracting the attention of the crowd form its focal point by creating diversions at other points


v.      Preventing the spread and reinforcement of the crowd by isolating it.

7.       Theories of Acting Crowd Behavior

a.        Classical perspective: people in a crowd lose their conscious personalities and act impulsively on the basis of their instincts rather than reason


i.      Group think

b.       Interactionist perspective: assumes that people in crowds reinforce and heighten one another’s reactions.


 i.      Contagion model


 ii.      Circular reactions: a type of interstimulation wherein the response of one individual reproduces the stimulation that has come from another individual and in being reflected back to this individual reinforces the stimulation.

1.       Ex: if someone shouts “let’s get him,” others model this behavior and usually adopt the same feelings… then passed back

a.        Shakespeare plays: Julius Caesar

2.       3 types of Circular reactions

a.        Milling: tends to make people preoccupied with one another and less responsive to the usual sources of stimulation

b.       Collective excitement: takes place when milling reaches a high level of agitation

c.        Social contagion: comes about wherever milling and collective excitement are intense and widespread.

c.        Emergent-Norm perspective: emphasizes how norms influence crowd behavior and how new norms emerge and are maintained


 i.      Ex: when others in the group shout, run, or express fear, we are likely to feel tremendous pressure to conform to their behavior

1.       Ex: Government shut down a few in March-Apr 2011

d.       Game perspective: suggests that crowd members think about their actions and consciously try to act in ways that will produce rewards.


i.      Unlike other theories, which assume that crowds behave irrationally, game theory stresses the importance of rational decisions

1.       People weigh the rewards and costs of various actions and choose the course that is most likely to lead to a desired end

a.        Ex: looting my yield a reward such as a TV set

8.       Controlling Crowds

a.        1989 England stampede at soccer game led to 4 organizational facts:


i.      (1) people were allowed to gather outside the stadium well in advance of the start of game


ii.      (2) there was no reserved seating


iii.      (3) there was an insufficient number of seats for everyone, a situation made worse because each team had not been granted an equal number of tickets


iv.      (4) there was not a sufficient amount of entrances to the stadium, forcing a large number of fans to gather at one gate

b.       Walmart and other stores at Black Fridays after Thanksgiving and for Christmas

c.        Getting back into the schools after fire drills… all try to go through one door without opening the other. (same with change between classes)

9.       Spatially Diffuse Collective Behaviors

a.        Collectives that form among several people spread over a wide geographical area

b.       The most common types are Masses and Publics

10.    Masses and Mass Behavior

a.        Mass: a collective of geographically dispersed individuals who react to or focus on some common event

b.       Mass media, mass event, mass communication, mass hysteria


 i.      Ex: millions of people who watch the Super Bowl or World Series on TV or listen on radio constitute a mass


ii.      Ex: the thousands of people who rush to the store to buy an item rumored to be in short supply constitute a mass


 iii.      Ex: the thousands of people who rush to buy gasoline for their cars because of a crises

1.       9/11

2.       Iraq War

3.       Afghanistan

4.       Egypt

5.       Libya

c.        Members of a mass


i.      come from all educational and socioeconomic levels


 ii.      They are anonymous


iii.      They interact little or not at all


  iv.      Has no established rules or rituals


  v.      shares no common ideology


  vi.      no hierarchy of statuses or roles


vii.      has no established leadership

d.       Fads and Fashions are specific types of diffuse collective mass behavior


i.      Generally arrive suddenly and disappear quickly


 ii.      Fad: a superficial or trivial behavior that is very popular for a short time

1.       Ex: dances, streaking, hula hoops, crowding into telephone booths, swallowing goldfish, buying pet rocks, Trivial Pursuit, Cabbage Patch dolls, Ninja turtle etc.


 iii.      Fashion: is a temporary trend in some aspect of appearance or behavior.

1.       Resembles a fad but they tend to be more cyclical

2.       Styles of dress, music, art, literature, theories, hair styles


 iv.      Fads and fashions provide many people with a sense of excitement, feelings of belonging, or a source of identification and self-esteem.


v.      Fads and fashions are big business… and bring large profits

e.       Mass Hysteria: a widespread, highly emotional fear of a potentially threatening situation


 i.      Salem in 1692


 ii.      Runs on banks in the 1930s

f.         Panic: occurs when people try to escape from a perceived danger


 i.      Mass hysteria and panic took place

1.       Three Mile Island (Middletown, PA) on Wednesday, 28Mar1979 and continued for several weeks

2.       9/11

3.       Katrina

4.       AIDS with Magic Johnson in Nov 1991

5.       Enterprise 2008

11.    Publics and Public Opinion

a.        Public: a group of people who are confronted with an issue, who do not agree on how to address the issue, and who discuss the issue.


 i.      Publics have no culture and no consciousness of themselves as groups

1.       Voters, consumers, magazine subscribers, stockholders are separate publics

b.       Public opinion: any opinion held by a substantial number of people or as the dominant opinion in a given population; may have many differing viewpoints


i.      Ex:

1.       Some publics favor abortion… others oppose it

2.       Some publics want more money for defense spending… others want less

3.       Some publics believe increased taxes… others want less taxes


 ii.      Public opinion influenced by:

1.       Political parties

2.       Organizations such as NOW, NRA, AEA, NEA, NAACP, ACLU

c.        Public opinion poll: a sampling of a population representative of a geographical area, of a group of interest to the pollster, or of a society as a whole

d.       Propaganda: attempts to manipulate ideas or opinions by presenting limited, selective, or false information


 i.      Tries to influence people by playing on their emotions rather than by discussing the merits of the various positions

e.       Censorship: prohibiting the dissemination of some types of information

12.    Social Movements

a.        Social movement is a collective effort to bring about social change and to establish a new order of social thought and action.


  i.      Movements involve more than a single event or community


  ii.      Begin during periods of unrest and dissatisfaction with some aspect of society


       iii.      Are motivated by the hope that the society can be changed

b.       Types of social movements:


      i.      Civil rights movement


     ii.      Women’s liberation


     iii.      Ecology movement


        iv.      Nuclear freeze movement


           v.      Green movement

c.        Organization of social movements


  i.      Value-oriented movements

1.       Advocate social changes concerning various groups, which result in a broader adherence to the central values of the larger society

a.        Civil rights

b.       Gay liberation

c.        Women’s movements


   ii.      Power-oriented movements

1.       Aim to achieve power, recognition, or status

a.        Nazi movement in Germany

b.       Bolshevik Revolution in Russia


  iii.      Participant-oriented movements

1.       Focus on personal rewards and fulfillment for their participants

a.        Back to nature

b.       Evangelical movements


    iv.      Reactionary movements

1.       Advocate the restoration of the values and behaviors of previous times


   v.      Conservatives movements

1.       Attempt to protect the status quo and resist change


     vi.      Resistance movements

1.       Aimed at preventing or reversing changes that have already occurred


     vii.      Reformist movements

1.       Try to modify some aspect of society without destroying or changing the entire system


    viii.      Revolutionary movement

1.       Believe in the overthrow of the existing social order as a means of creating a new one


  ix.      Nationalistic movements

1.       Hope to instill national pride and a sense of identity with ones country: Jingoism


x.      Utopian movements

1.       To create a perfect society


   xi.      Religious movements

1.       Want to convert or modify the existing belief system in accordance with a religious principle


 xii.      Expressive movements

1.       Would like to change people’s emotional reactions to help them cope with prevailing social conditions

13.    The Development of Life Cycle of Social Movements

a.        (1) Social unrest


 i.      Rumors abound and people become susceptible to the appeals of agitators

b.       (2) Popular excitement


 i.      Unrest is brought into the open and group begins to acquire an identity and leaders emerge

c.        (3) Formalization


    i.      Formal structure is developed and rules, policies and tactics laid out


  ii.      Resource mobilization theory: suggests that the success of a social movement depends not only on those who benefit from it directly but also on their ability to mobilize other individuals and groups to contribute resources (time, money, and influence) to the cause

d.       (4) Institutionalization


  i.      Movement becomes integrated into society


ii.      May have a permanent office and personnel hired to continue its efforts


iii.      Takes on a life of its own

1.       AEA / NEA

2.       AARP

3.       NOW