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Theoretical perspectives on collective behavior

Early collective behavior theories (LeBon 1895; Blumer 1969) focused on the irrationality of crowds. Eventually, those theorists who viewed crowds as uncontrolled groups of irrational people were supplanted by theorists who viewed the behavior some crowds engaged in as the rational behavior of logical beings.

Emergent-norm perspective

A photo of a damaged home from Hurricane Katrina with a sign posted on the fence that reads, Looters Will Be Shot
According to the emergent-norm perspective, Hurricane Katrina victims sought needed supplies for survival, but to outsiders their behavior would normally be seen as looting. (Photo courtesy of Infrogmation/Wikimedia Commons)

Sociologists Ralph Turner and Lewis Killian (1993) built on earlier sociological ideas and developed what is known as emergent norm theory. They believe that the norms experienced by people in a crowd may be disparate and fluctuating. They emphasize the importance of these norms in shaping crowd behavior, especially those norms that shift quickly in response to changing external factors. Emergent norm theory asserts that, in this circumstance, people perceive and respond to the crowd situation with their particular (individual) set of norms, which may change as the crowd experience evolves. This focus on the individual component of interaction reflects a symbolic interactionist perspective.

For Turner and Killian, the process begins when individuals suddenly find themselves in a new situation, or when an existing situation suddenly becomes strange or unfamiliar. For example, think about human behavior during Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans was decimated and people were trapped without supplies or a way to evacuate. In these extraordinary circumstances, what outsiders saw as “looting” was defined by those involved as seeking needed supplies for survival. Normally, individuals would not wade into a corner gas station and take canned goods without paying, but given that they were suddenly in a greatly changed situation, they established a norm that they felt was reasonable.

Once individuals find themselves in a situation ungoverned by previously established norms, they interact in small groups to develop new guidelines on how to behave. According to the emergent-norm perspective, crowds are not viewed as irrational, impulsive, uncontrolled groups. Instead, norms develop and are accepted as they fit the situation. While this theory offers insight into why norms develop, it leaves undefined the nature of norms, how they come to be accepted by the crowd, and how they spread through the crowd.

Value-added theory

Neil Smelser’s (1962) meticulous categorization of crowd behavior, called value-added theory     , is a perspective within the functionalist tradition based on the idea that several conditions must be in place for collective behavior to occur. Each condition adds to the likelihood that collective behavior will occur. The first condition is structural conduciveness , which occurs when people are aware of the problem and have the opportunity to gather, ideally in an open area. Structural strain , the second condition, refers to people’s expectations about the situation at hand being unmet, causing tension and strain. The next condition is the growth and spread of a generalized belief , wherein a problem is clearly identified and attributed to a person or group.

Questions & Answers

Explain the importance of beliefs or a note of Beliefs.
Shuvhe Reply
sociological lmagination
Kelley Reply
what is gender studies
Muhammad Reply
origin and development of sociology
Rakshita Reply
what's to join
Prisca
What is gender studies
Muhammad
it means either of the two sexes (Male /female)
Prisca
thanks bro
Muhammad
thank u
Rakshita
gender studies is the study of the roles that men and women play in our society ...how those roles have been shaped..what factors have influenced them ...and their pros and cons etc
Babar
is sociology similar to political science
connect
hey guys iam a new member of this community can u tell me exactly what sociology is to be real I don't know anything about it iam interested to learn
connect
sociology is the study of social life...society, culture, social changes etc
Babar
the study of human behaviour and how interact with each other
Kimoya
what is Becker 1963
Karen Reply
sociology kisse mil ker bna hai
Poonam Reply
"Logy" means study n "social" is society.
Reemiya
Socius and logos
Silent
waah Raj
Rishit
Definition of sociology
Shashi Reply
sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior.
Sunny
as the implies it is the study of both sex in the environment
Philip
sociology is is the study of human behavior
Muhammad
sociology is the science of society
Rehana
what is culture
Anuman Reply
To me what culture is what you grow up with in your family. What are some of the customs and ritual that you follow. Your parent maybe born in there country, while u are born in the United States. You can clash both cultures together or identity yourself more with one than the other.
Josephine
There are people who follow there culture like a book and there are people who don't follow there cultural as much.
Josephine
culture is what makes you more like your environ and imprison your thought process.
Noor
how a researcher can conduct his theoretical framework
AMINU Reply
what are the major ways that are use to prevent our youth from drug abuse
AMINU Reply
1.keep them engaged in positive activities like study,sports. 2.Provide them jobs. 3.Married people are less inclined towards drug as they have to shoulder family responsibility. 4.Law system also need to play their role to control drug mafias. 5.rehabilitation centers for drug abused should be ther
deepak
would love to know others thought on this
deepak
keep them engaged in positive activities
Rizwana
implement the Law is one and forcing the law is two, which is the weak point of the government to stop drug abuse.
Pupa
tackling corruption, poverty and illiteracy is very essential
Farous
how does poverty have an impact on drug abuse. In my opinion, I think if you don't have money to eat how do you get money for drugs.
Eunice
Characteristics of culture
Yusuf Reply
.
deepak
hhhhhh
Yusuf
?
Rizwana
How has sociologists views shaped the way we think of society today?
seba Reply
why sociological imagination called sociological lens?
Crisel Reply
since the views of sociology derive from the minds of those who think as they do, this is called the sociological lens. Our imagination is only limited to how we think and we perceive things as a result of thinking vigorously. A sociological imagination focuses on the depth of a concept or idea...
seba
I agree what seba said.
Josephine
what are the measures that are used to cure and prevent our society from repping
AMINU Reply
what is Hawthorne effect
Karen Reply
It is when the respondent is influenced by the researcher For example the respondent might lie to impress the researcher thus Hawthorne effect is include
Soumeyrah

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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