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Collective Behavior - Abstracts

Collective Behavior Books, Collective Behavior, Bibliography, Journals, Syllabus

Collective Behavior 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 measures.

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 blocked.

The Internationalization 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 protests. 
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 Violence" 
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 problem—that of explaining collective behavior in terms of a representative individual. 
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 Behavio
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.

Bert Useem ­ Department of Sociology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131 
Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 24: 215-238 (Volume publication date August 1998) (doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.24.1.215)
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): 451-498.
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.