Sociology Index


Collective behavior is defined as spontaneous activity involving a large number of people. Collective behavior is the actions taken by people gathered together usually in defiance of society's norms. These collective behavior episodes has evolved into a field of sociology and a concept known as collective behavior. Studying collective behavior can be very practical and useful in today's society. In every society and civilization people have absorbed themselves in episodes of collective behavior such as the crowd, the riot, and revolution. Studying collective behavior will allow people to better understand how people respond in certain situations. Social movements are organized and relatively sustained activities that have a clear goal in terms of achieving or preventing social change.

What Is Collective Behavior?

Groups taking to the streets protesting against a certain action is collective behavior. Groups taking to the streets demanding or opposing certain rights or discrimination is collective behavior. Behaviors based on concern and attitude or just panic and fads is collective behavior. Fads and fashions as collective behavior do not depend upon the physical proximity of participants and can affect the behavior of individuals in widely dispersed circumstances.

Examples of Collective Behavior

Collective behavior is explained on the basis of simultaneous presence of a number of people who share the same predispositions. Riots, Rumors, Mass Hysteria, and Moral Panic, Fads, Fashions, revolutions, lynching, manias and crazes, all occur as collective behavior. An expressive crowd is a collection of people who gather primarily to be excited and to express one or more emotions. Examples include a religious revival, a political rally for a candidate, and events like Mardi Gras. Goode (1992).

A protest crowd is a collection of people who gather to protest a political, social, cultural, or economic issue. Riots may be identified according to the motivation and goals of the participants in the riots. One popular typology distinguishes between protest riots and celebration riots (McPhail, 1994). Protest riots are fundamentally political in nature, while celebration riots are decidedly apolitical. Rumour is the characteristic mode of communication in collective-behavior episodes. Turner and Killian (1972).

Collective Behavior Abstracts

The Collective Dynamics of Belief - Duncan J. Watts.
A theme that dominates the Protestant Ethic is that belief precedes rationality. The values by which one economic order can be judged are neither universal nor exogenous, but arise endogenously.

The Crowd and Collective Behavior: Bringing Symbolic Interaction Back In - Clark McPhail. 
Abstract: The importance of symbolic interactionism in the formation of temporary gatherings, in the dynamic alternation between individual and collective actions, and in the dispersal processes.

A Study of Sports Crowd Behavior: The Case of the Great Pumpkin Incident - Linda Levy.
Which theory of collective behavior best predicts or explains how crowd processes work prompted this case study. By examining the unfolding of one episode of nonviolent collective behavior at a professional football game, theories of collective behavior are tested for their utility in sports crowd situations.

Collective Behavior in Organizational Settings - Ralph L. Blankenship. Abstract: In a community mental health center which stressed professional colleagueship unilateral use of authority presented recurring contingent crises. Negotiation is the primary mechanism of controlling equals and to indicate collective behavior as an alternative course toward negotiated order.

The Internationalization of Collective Behavior: Lessons from Elian. Abstract: In a comparative international context Cuba is in a pre-transitional political stage in which the systems of social control do not permit the occurrence of organized collective behavior.

The Apparent Madness of Crowds: Irrational collective behavior emerging from interactions among rational agents - Sitabhra Sinha. The observation of extremely large fluctuations in the price of financial assets that are not correlated to changes in their fundamental value imply that markets do display irrational behavior.

Mob Sociology and Escalated Force: Sociology's Contribution to Repressive Police Tactics (2000) - By David Schweingruber
Abstract: Mob sociology is derived from sociological theories about crowd behavior, but ignores that crowds occur within a larger social context. Mob sociology is highly compatible with the escalated force style of protest policing.

The Media as Spur and Spoiler: A Theory of Multiple Influences on Collective Behavior - David A. Siegel.
Abstract: Individual interests are heterogeneous. People choose whether or not to participate in the behavior based on a comparison of costs and benefits. Social elites who are unified in their interests can play an outsized role in determining participation.

When Does Repression Work? Collective Behavior Under the Threat of Violence. Abstract: Model involving adaptive social learning, shaped by the network structure, targeted repression, and mass media.

Society: Collective Behavior, News and Opinion, and Sociology and Modern Society. by Robert E. Park, Everett Cherrington Hughes - Review Rudolf Heberle - The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 62, No. 1 (Jul., 1956), pp. 97-98.

A Test of the Emergent Norm Theory of Collective Behavio
Authors: Aguirre B.E; Wenger D; Vigo G.
Abstract: The timing of evacuation behavior of occupants of the World Trade Center to test predictions from Emergent Norm Theory.

Psychoanalytic Sociology: An Essay on the Interpretation of Historical Data and the Phenomena of Collective Behavior: By Fred Weinstein and Gerald M. Platt. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973.
Deficiencies of Psychoanalytic Sociology point to a central dilemma of psychoanalysis. For psychoanalysis to be a scientific discipline it must be codified and integrated.

“What's Cool? - Modelling Fashion-like Collective Behavior Emergence from Individual Neuro-psychological Conditioning” - Jorge Simao, Peter M. Todd, Luis Moniz Pereira,
Abstract: A model that shows how mechanisms of neuro-psychological conditioning at individual level can generate the emergence of fashion-like collective behavior.

Exploratory design of collective behavior
Eric Bonabeau, Icosystem Corporation
Agent-based modeling enables us to reproduce emergent phenomena in collective human systems.

Collective Behavior Journals

Mobilization is an international journal of research and theory specializing in social movements, protests and collective behavior.

The Institute of the Study of Collective Behavior and Memory is a non-profit organisation whose general purpose is to pursue research into ancient rituals, myths and legends, symbols, systems of abstract and applied knowledge.

Collective Behavior Books

Clark McPhail, "Blumer's Theory of Collective Behavior: The Development of a Non-Symbolic Interaction Explanation." Abstract: The development of a transformation explanation for collective behavior is traced from LeBon's theory of crowd mind, through Park's dissertation on rational and critical discussion in publics versus psychic reciprocity in crowds, to Blumer's distinction between symbolic interaction in routine social life and circular reaction in collective behavior. The accumulated logical arguments and empirical evidence against the transformation hypothesis are reviewed. Some theoretical and methodological paradoxes are noted in Blumer's adoption of Park's rather than Mead's explanation for human behavior in problematic situations.