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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

outline the condition in europe during the 18th and 19th centuries that contributed to the development of sociology
ARCHIBOLD Reply
Why do people deviate from societal norm
lucky Reply
discuss five factors that contributed to the emergence of sociology as an academic discipline
Evans Reply
why is there an increase in education in zambia
Caroline Reply
What is sociology
Celestina Reply
sociology is the study of groups and their way of interaction in the society
lucky
discuss the roles the family has failed as a primary agent of socialisation?
Lotyang Reply
the family has failed as a primary agent of socialisation because it has not been able to inculcate the needed values to bring unity in the society
Damba
please what are the stages in social movement
faith Reply
social movement is the movement where people gathered and keep their own demand to fullfill it social movement generally casus by name of women,untouchbility,dominance in the country
unknown
it also cause in emergence and decline of devlopment then aslo social movement causes generally
unknown
stages in social movement involved people's coming together for the means of interaction and for the welfare of the society
lucky
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Simon Reply
factors that led to the emergence of sociology as an academic discipline
Evans
group life. historical dominancy. cultural variability, complex way of life. social classes and social crisis
Waqar
 The rise and development of sociology is based on political, economic, demographic, social and scientific changes.
Mohamed
sociology is the study of society and their behaviors and also their culture
anwar
theories of sociology
abdinur
sociology is the study of human behaviour
Sahara
sociology is the scientific study of behavioural perspective of human being towards their environmental change, cultural reliability, and all sphere of social value, norms that exhibit their socialisation in the society.
omotunde
question please? why do people deviate from societal norm
lucky
people violate the social rules and norms because they are incapable of been meet up with the societal goals. They lack means of achieving societal means to achieve societal goals.
omotunde
people deviate in society because of they belief and characters .
Ahafianyo
social issues faced in India
Alan Reply
poverty untouchbility corruption child marraige overpopulation all this are the big issues of social in india:)
unknown
reservation system, polluted politics, people's exploration, illiteracy, etc.
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elia Reply
what is a monogamous family?
Basu Reply
family or marriage ?
asad
what is a monogamous family?
Basu
?
asad
What is family
Sukhjit Reply
family is type of relationship in this it deals with positive and negative tearms and conditions
unknown
who's a sociologist
Denis Reply
family is a group of people who are lived under one roof and they have a biological relation.
what is the origin and development of sociology?
namiak Reply
can any one will differentiate between social movement and pressure group?
Nasiru Reply
what is the origin and development of sociology?
namiak

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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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