Collective behavior refers to people’s actions and activities when they are part of a larger group, where they are organised enough to share mentalities and general goals. Typically, the crowd has common interests and a sense of identity. People who are part of a crowd may influence each other. (studysmarter.co.uk)
- 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.
- Precipitating factors is the fourth condition that spurs collective behavior; this is the emergence of a dramatic event.
- The fifth condition is mobilization for action when leaders emerge to direct a crowd to action. The final condition social control, relates to action by the agents and is the only way to end the collective behavior episode (Smelser 1962).
Clark McPhail (1991), a symbolic interactionist, developed an assembling perspective, another system for understanding collective behavior that credited individuals in crowds as rational beings.