Collective Behavior - Abstracts
Collective Behavior Books, Collective Behavior, Bibliography, Journals, Syllabus
and Social Movements - CBSM Workshop
A Study of Sports Crowd
Behavior: The Case of the Great Pumpkin Incident
Linda Levy, Department of Sociology Rutgers University
Journal of Sport & Social Issues, Vol. 13, No. 2, 69-91 (1989)
Disagreement on which theory of collective behavior best predicts or explains how crowd
processes work prompted this case study. By closely examining, through participant
observation, the unfolding of one episode of nonviolent collective behavior at a
professional football game, four frequently applied theories of collective behavior are
tested for their utility in sports crowd situations. Each theory is assessed for strengths
and weaknesses. Findings show contagion theory, convergence theory, emergent norm theory,
and value-added theory all valuable in explaining some facets of observed spectator
behavior; therefore a synthesis of theories might prove more useful than applying theories
separately. A methodological problem emerged during evaluation, concerning difficulty in
distinguishing among the indicators for each theory. Several overlapping theoretical
concepts confounded attempts to operationalize unique empirical measures and hence, to
compare the theories satisfactorily. Further research is needed to provide adequate
Collective Behavior in
Organizational Settings - Ralph L. Blankenship
Department of Sociology and Anthropology University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Work and Occupations, Vol. 3, No. 2, 151-168 (1976)
Abstract: In a community mental health center which stressed professional colleagueship
and deemphasized administrative power, unilateral use of authority presented recurring,
contingent crises. Two episodes are compared and analyzed to reveal negotiation as the
primary mechanism of controlling equals and to indicate collective behavior as an
alternative course toward negotiated order when routine channels of communication are
of Collective Behavior: Lessons from Elian
Abstract: The paper argues that in a comparative international context Cuba is in a
pre-transitional political stage in which civil society is undeveloped and in which the
systems of social control do not permit the occurrence of organized collective behavior.
Instead, they are least effective in controlling the emergence of a generalized culture of
opposition to the government and the occurrence of relatively unorganized collective
It then analyzes the recent events surrounding the Elian Gonzalez case to advance a
general strategy of guided social change that, while continuing to sponsor and support
organized collectivities clamoring for social and political change in Cuba, would also
concentrate on the mobilization of the Cuban community outside Cuba and the creation and
enhancement of links between these democratic forces and international organizations and
fora that would support a culture of opposition in the island and peaceful social change.
Elian revealed like few other events before it that anti-hegemonic political collective
action by Cubans in and out of Cuba is not a national but an international process, thus
demonstrating the need to internationalize the collective action of Cubans struggling for
political change. The paper concludes with proposals outlining what is needed to bring
about the desired democratic outcome.
The Apparent Madness of
Crowds: Irrational collective behavior emerging from interactions among rational agents
Authors: Sitabhra Sinha - 2006
Standard economic theory assumes that agents in markets behave rationally. However, the
observation of extremely large fluctuations in the price of financial assets that are not
correlated to changes in their fundamental value, as well as the extreme instance of
financial bubbles and crashes, imply that markets (at least occasionally) do display
irrational behavior. In this paper, we briefly outline our recent work demonstrating that
a market with interacting agents having bounded rationality can display price fluctuations
that are (quantitatively) similar to those seen in real markets.
Mob Sociology and
Escalated Force: Sociology's Contribution to Repressive Police Tactics (2000) -
By David Schweingruber
Abstract: Mob sociology is a theory of crowd behavior that is found in the United States
police literature and that has been used to design and justify demonstration management
practices. Mob sociology is derived from sociological theories about crowd behavior, but
ignores their originators' assertions that crowds occur within a larger social context.
Mob sociology was diffused throughout the United State in the late 1960s and early 1970s
through a national civil disorder training program and a variety of police manuals and
magazines. Mob sociology is highly compatible with the escalated force style of protest
policing and has lost its much of its influence since the introduction of negotiated
management practices. However, it is still present in police literature and training
programs and should be replaced by contemporary social science research and theory
This paper appeared in The Sociological Quarterly 41(3): 371-389.
The Crowd and Collective Behavior: Bringing
Symbolic Interaction Back In
Clark McPhail, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign - Symbolic Interaction, Fall 2006,
Vol. 29, No. 4, Pages 433-464
Abstract: Presented as the Distinguished Lecture at the annual meeting of the Society for
the Study of Symbolic Interaction in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in August 2005, this
article's objective is to illustrate the importance of symbolic interaction in the
formation of temporary gatherings, in the dynamic alternation between individual and
collective actions that comprise those gatherings, and in the dispersal processes that
bring such gatherings to an end. In reviewing the phenomena to be explained, I also call
attention to the limitations of the concepts of "the crowd" and of
"collective behavior." Finally, to make sense of the dynamic variation and
alternation between individual and collective actions, and the variation in the latter, I
champion and extend G. H. Mead's theory of the act as a closed-loop, negativefeedback
model of purposive action. No lesser model of agency and action is adequate to the
challenge of understanding and explaining the phenomena in question.
"The Media as Spur and Spoiler: A Theory of
Multiple Influences on Collective Behavior"
David A. Siegel,
Abstract: "I present a model of interdependent collective behavior under the
influence of both local social networks and a mass media. Individual interests are
heterogeneous, and people choose whether or not to participate in the behavior based on a
comparison of subjective costs and benefits. Costs are updated in response to the
activities of both their social neighbors and the population as a whole; people obtain
information about the latter from the media. I find that, contrary to conventional wisdom,
neither increased connectivity in local networks nor an increased role for the media
uniformly increases participation in collective behavior: in many cases both can decrease
participation rates. Social elites who are unified in their interests can play an outsized
role in determining participation, as can a biased media. The model I develop to derive
these results additionally provides a powerful methodological tool for analyzing the
impact that qualitative network structures can have on mass outcomes."
"When Does Repression Work? Collective Behavior Under the Threat of
Abstract: Detailed model involving adaptive social learning, shaped by the network
structure, targeted repression, and mass media, with some applications to the Iraqi
elections at the start of 2005. One wonders if there isn't some way of extracting
analytical results, rather than just simulations...
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
The Collective Dynamics of Belief
Duncan J. Watts, Department of Sociology, and Institute for Social and Economic Research
and Policy, Columbia University
One of the themes that dominates the Protestant Ethic is that belief precedes rationality;
that the values by which one economic order can be judged superior to another are neither
universal nor exogenous, but arise endogenously within a specific historical and social
context. Although this line of thought has been enormously influential in sociology, it
has attracted considerable criticism as well. How is it then, that people, collectively,
come to believe the things that they do? In this chapter, I first review briefly the
debate between what I call rationalist and historicist views of
human behavior, and argue that both perspectives suffer from different versions of the
same problemthat of explaining collective behavior in terms of a representative
I then motivate and describe a very simple class of decision making models, from which I
conclude that rules which are simple, intuitive, and even rational from an individual's
perspective, can generate collective dynamics that are complex, unpredictable, and
counter-intuitive. As a result, collective outcomes are ambiguously related both to
individual preferences and also contextual variables, and causality in historical
processes is rendered elusive. I conclude by describing how thinking about collective
belief formation may shed light on some phenomena of contemporary capitalism.
A Test of the Emergent Norm Theory of Collective
Authors: Aguirre B.E; Wenger D; Vigo G.
Source: Sociological Forum, Volume 13, Number 2, June 1998, pp. 301-320(20)
Abstract: Objective: The paper uses the timing of evacuation behavior of occupants of the
World Trade Center at the time of the explosion of February 26, 1993, to test predictions
from Emergent Norm Theory. Method: It uses ordinary least square multiple regression
analysis to examine data from a survey done in the first week in May 1993 of 415 people
who worked at the World Trade Center. Results: The theory's predictions regarding the
additive effects of size of group and preexisting social relationships on the timing of
evacuation are supported. However, the findings document important and unexpected
interaction effects of these two variables on the effects of perceived threat, resources,
and cooperativeness on the timing of evacuation. Conclusion: The results augment the
theory by showing the continued importance of enduring social relationships as
determinants of collective behavior. Enduring social relationships are not only useful to
differentiate collective behavior from institutionalized behavior but also specify the
dynamics attending the occurrence of collective behavior.
BREAKDOWN THEORIES OF COLLECTIVE ACTION
Bert Useem Department of Sociology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 24: 215-238 (Volume publication date August 1998)
Historically, breakdown theory dominated the sociological study of collective action. In
the 1970s, this theory was found to be increasingly unable to account for contemporaneous
events and newly discovered historical facts. Resource mobilization theory displaced
breakdown theory as the dominant paradigm. Yet the evidence against breakdown theory is
weak once a distinction is made between routine and nonroutine collective action. Several
recent contributions affirm the explanatory power of breakdown theory for nonroutine
collective action. Breakdown theory also contributes to an understanding of the use of
governmental force against protest and of the moral features of collective action.
Breakdown and resource mobilization theories explain different types of phenomena, and
both are needed to help account for the full range of forms of collective action.
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.
Review by: Jerome D. Oremland, M.D.
(1979). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 27:238-247
When evaluating a study that crosses interdisciplinary lines, it is necessary to avoid
chauvinistic criticism stemming from a feeling that one's own territory is being invaded,
and chauvinistic pride coupled with premature acceptance that comes from reading familiar
words and phrases. Perhaps inevitably, attempts to integrate major disciplines or even
theoretical viewpoints lead to reservations and deficiencies.
Some of the deficiencies of Psychoanalytic Sociology point to a central dilemma of
psychoanalysis. In order for psychoanalysis to be a scientific discipline which can be
utilized by other disciplines, it must be codified, integrated, and systematically
presented. Yet, as a developing, clinically oriented science, psychoanalysis runs the risk
of premature closure by such codifying tendencies.
Neuro-Psychological Social Theorizing and Simulation with the Computational
Multi-Agent System Ethos, invited paper at Proceedings of the Congresso em
Neurociências Cognitivas, Évora, Portugal, 2003.
Jorge Simão, Luís Moniz Pereira
Abstract: Human social behaviour, culture change, and emergent social organization are
amongst the most intricate phenomena studied by science. Aided by theoretical and
computational tools developed to study emergent phenomena in complex systems, social
theorists aim to develop a unified body of knowledge that helps to shed light on long
lasting question of human sociality. With this intent in mind, we have been developing a
new conceptual framework, in the form of a Multi-Agent System (MAS) based on a simple
abstraction of individuals' cognitive hardwired neuro-psychological behaviour, and
implemented as an object-oriented computational paradigm. This framework, named Ethos,
extends the traditional features provided in current MAS for agent-based modelling, with
new abstractions specifically designed to model psychologically determined human social
behaviour, culture, and organization.
What's Cool? - Modelling Fashion-like Collective Behavior Emergence from
Individual Neuro-psychological Conditioning - Jorge Simão, Peter M. Todd,
Luís Moniz Pereira,
Abstract: In this article we have presented a simple model that shows how mechanisms of
neuro-psychological conditioning at the individual level can generate the emergence of
fashion-like collective behavior. The model shows that for even moderate levels of social
assortment, trait usage can oscillate continuously between stable periods of near full
trait use to near total trait avoidance.
Exploratory design of collective behavior
Eric Bonabeau, Icosystem Corporation
Agent-based modeling (ABM) enables us to reproduce emergent phenomena in collective human
(and non human) systems. With a properly validated and calibrated model it therefore
becomes possible to explore the range of emergent phenomena made possible by the
individual-level rules of behavior and interactions between agents. While the
"forward problem" of determining which emergent pattern will result from a set
of individual-level rules is greatly facilitated by ABM, the inverse problem, which
consists of designing the rules to create certain collective patterns, is still very
difficult for a variety of reasons including: desired patterns may be difficult to
formalize, the collective-level pattern landscape may be rugged, one may not know ahead of
time what kinds of collective-level patterns to expect from the individual-level rules,
rule space is extremely large, etc.
A Method for Systematically Observating and
Recording Collective Action (1999)
By David Schweingruber and Clark McPhail - Sociological Methods and Research 27(4):
Abstract: The collective action observation method is a method for systematically
observing and recording collective action across temporary gatherings, such as political
demonstrations. It uses trained observers, distributed across a gathering, who complete a
code sheet during time-interval samples. The code sheet allows the observers to record
participation in up to 50 elementary forms of collective action by members of seven actor
categories. These elementary forms were inductively generated from extensive prior
observations of temporary gatherings. The data collected provides a rich record of
collective action across space and time.
Simulating Arcs and Rings in Gatherings
By Charles W. Tucker, David Schweingruber and Clark McPhail - International Journal of
Human-Computer Studies 50:581-588.
Abstract: A theory of collective behavior must be able to account for simple and common
collective phenomena such as arcs and rings. Using a computer simulation designed
according to the principles of Perceptual Control Theory, based on a model of how a human
being, as a living control system, engages in movement alone and with others in temporary
gatherings, we produced a highly symmetrical ring that remotely corresponds to the
non-simulated world because it is made up exclusively of individuals. When we simulated
the pairs that compared to non-simulated gatherings, the outcome was an arc but was still
unlike those we have observed in many temporary gatherings. When we introduced
disturbances into the gatherings in the form of other simulated actors they more closely
represented what we have observed in the non-simulated world of parks, plazas, state fairs
and school yards as well as those at political, religious and sports rallies. We offer
several proposals for future research.
A Computer Simulation of a Sociological Experiment
By David Schweingruber - Social Science Computer Review 13(3):351--359
The GATHERING program, which is based on the principles of perception control theory, is
used to simulate a simplified form of McPhail and Wohlstein's (1986) collective locomotion
experiment. The main finding of the experiment--that more reference signals in common
resulted in greater coordination of collective behavior--was replicated in the simulation.
The ability of the GATHERING program to reproduce collective behavior observed in the
field and in an experiment provides evidence for the usefulness of the theory of
individual behavior on which the program is based. The simulation reported here also
demonstrates how a key hypothesis--that collective behavior is a result of similar or
related reference signals in common--can work in some instances of collective behavior.
Collective Behavior and Social Movements - Pamela Oliver
American Sociological Association's Section on
Collective Behavior and Social Movements - Working Paper Series.