Sociology Index

Collective Behavior

Collective Behavior Books

Collective behavior is defined as activity involving a large number of people that is often spontaneous. Social movements are organized and relatively sustained activities that have a clear goal in terms of achieving or preventing social change. Collective behavior is the actions taken by people gathered together usually in defiance of society's norms.

In every society and civilization people have absorbed themselves in episodes of collective behavior such as the crowd, the riot, and revolution. These collective behavior episodes has evolved into a field of sociology and a concept known as collective behavior.

The generalized types of collective behavior are:

Localized as crowds, mobs or riots.

Dispersed, or mass behavior as in rumor, fads or propaganda.

Social movements which are sustained activities to achieve a particular end.

The Importance of Learning Collective Behavior
Studying collective behavior can be very practical and useful in today's society. There have been many accounts of crowds, mobs and riots that have turned dangerous. Studying collective behavior will allow people to better understand how people respond in certain situations.

What Is Collective Behavior?
Groups taking to the streets protesting against a certain action. Groups taking to the streets demanding or opposing certain rights or discrimination. These come under collective behavior. Collective behavior includes a range of behaviors based on concern and attitude or just panic and fads. Collective behavior includes many sociological sub-fields.


Collective Behavior - Abstracts

The Collective Dynamics of Belief
Duncan J. Watts, Dept of Sociology, and Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, Columbia University.
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.

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)
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. Shows contagion theory, convergence theory, emergent norm theory, and value-added theory which all valuable in explaining facets of observed spectator behavior.

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 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 - Authors: Sitabhra Sinha - 2006
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 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: The importance of symbolic interaction in the formation of temporary gatherings, in the dynamic alternation between individual and collective actions, and in the dispersal processes.

"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.

Bert Useem ­ Department of Sociology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131 
Breakdown theory dominated the sociological study of collective action. Resource mobilization theory displaced breakdown theory as the dominant paradigm.

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.

“Neuro-Psychological Social Theorizing and Simulation with the Computational Multi-Agent System Ethos”, invited paper at Proceedings of the Congresso em Neurociências Cognitivas, Évora, Jorge Simão, Luís Moniz Pereira
Abstract: Social theorists aim to develop a unified body of knowledge to shed light on the question of human sociality. Ethos extends the traditional features provided in current MAS for agent-based modelling.

“What's Cool? - Modelling Fashion-like Collective Behavior Emergence from Individual Neuro-psychological Conditioning” - Jorge Simão, Peter M. Todd, Luís 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.

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 observing and recording collective action across temporary gatherings.

Simulating Arcs and Rings in Gatherings
By Charles W. Tucker, David Schweingruber and Clark McPhail.
Abstract: Collective behavior must be able to account for simple and common collective phenomena as arcs and rings.

A Computer Simulation of a Sociological Experiment
By David Schweingruber - Social Science Computer Review 13(3):351--359
The GATHERING program is used to simulate a simplified form of McPhail and Wohlstein's collective locomotion experiment.

Collective Behavior - Journals

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

Social Movement Studies is an international and inter-disciplinary journal providing a forum for academic debate and analysis of extra-parliamentary political, cultural and social movements.

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.

Strands of Theory and Research in Collective Behavior - G T Marx,  J L Wood

Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian - Valuable, reliable information on the production, collection, organization, dissemination, retrieval, and use of information in the social and behavioral sciences.

Journal of Organizational Behavior - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Collective Behavior - Bibliography


Neil. J. Smelser, "Some Additional Thoughts on Collective Behavior," in Collective Behavior: A Source Book, ed. M.D. Pugh (West, 1980).


Harry Eckstein, "Explaining Collective Political Violence," in Regarding Politics: Essays on Political Theory, Stability and Change (Univ. of California Press, 1992).


David L. Miller, Introduction to Collective Behavior (Wadsworth, 1985).

R. George Kirkpatrick and Shoon Lio, Course Readings in Collective Behavior (KB Books, 1996)

Gary T. Marx and James L. Wood, "Strands of Collective Behavior Theory and Research," Annual Review of Sociology, vol. 1 (1975).

Neil. J. Smelser, "Some Additional Thoughts on Collective Behavior," in Collective Behavior: A Source Book, ed. M.D. Pugh (West, 1980).

Clark McPhail, "Blumer's Theory of Collective Behavior: The Development of a Non-Symbolic Interaction Explanation." Sociological Quarterly 30 (1989).

Robert W. Balch and Margaret Gilliam, "Devil Worship in Western Montana: A Case Study in Rumor Construction," in The Satanism Scare, ed. James T. Richardson (Aldine De Gruyter, 1991).

Robert Stallings, "Collective Behavior Theory and the Study of Mass Hysteria," Disasters, Collective Behavior, and Social Organization, ed. Russell R. Dynes and Kathleen Tierney (University of Delaware Press, 1994).

Ralph H. Turner, "The Moral Issue in Collective Behavior and Collective Action." Mobilization (1996)

Jerry M. Lewis, "A Study of the Kent State Incident Using Smelser's Theory of Collective Behavior," Sociological Inquiry, vol. 42 (1972).

Patricia A. Turner, "Ambiva lent Patrons: The Role of Rumor and Contemporary Legends in African-American Consumer Decisions," Journal of American Folklore, vol. 105 (1992).

Robert Stallings, "Collective Behavior Theory and the Study of Mass Hysteria," Disasters, Collective Behavior, and Social Organization, ed. Russell R. Dynes and Kathleen Tierney (University of Delaware Press, 1994).

B.E. Aguirre, E.L. Quarantelli, and Jorge L. Mendoza, "The Collective Behavior of Fads: The Characteristics, Effects, and Career of Streaking," American Sociological Review (August 1988).

Clark McPhail, "Individual and Collective Behavior within Gatherings, Demonstrations, and Riots." Annual Review of Sociology 9(1983).

Kathleen J. Tierney, "Property Damage and Violence: A Collective Behavior Analysis," in The Los Angeles Riots: Lessons for the Urban Future, ed. Mark Baldassare (Westview, 1994).

J. David Knotternus, "The Melanesian Cargo Cults: A Test of the Value-Added Theory of Collective Behavior," Sociological Inquiry, vol 53 (Fall 1983).

Steven J. Lilley and Gerald M. Platt, "Correspondents' Images of Martin Luther King Jr.: an Interpretive Theory of Movement Leadership." in Constructing the Social, ed. by Theodore R. Sarbin and John Kitsuse. (Sage, 1994).