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Title: The determination of collective behaviour
Author: Reicher, S. D.
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1984
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Existing theories of crowd behaviour fall into two categories of individualism. Firstly, the 'group mind' approach which proposes that individuality is eclipsed in the crowd. Secondly, Floyd Allport's position, whereby individuality is said to be accentuated in the crowd. Both approaches see individual identity as the sole basis for planned action. Therefore, they cannot explain the social form of crowd events. Historical data shows crowd behaviour to be spontaneous with socially meaningful limits to participation and action. A 'social identity model' is proposed to account for this behaviour. The crowd is a set of individuals who adopt a common social identification. They seek to conform to the ingroup stereotype. However, since they face a novel context, participants must elaborate a situational identity which is consonant with their social identity. Thus action is limited by the attributes of social identity and participation is limited to those whose social identity is salient. The affect of factors such as compresence or anonymity is mediated by their effects on salience, and hence conformity. Empirical support comes from four experiments and a field study. The first two studies show that influence in crowd-like groups is limited to information about group norms and depends on salience of social identity. The third study shows that submergence in a group enhances conformity to group norms. Anonymity in a group further increases conformity. However, anonymity for isolated subjects attenuates conformity. The final study shows that anonymity from a powerful outgroup allows the expression of social identity behaviours sanctioned by the outgroup. A field study of the "St. Pauls 'riots'" confirms that crowd members adopt a common social identity and that this identity provides the basis for behaviour. Moreover crowd power enables unprecedented freedom in expressing this identity. Thus the crowd context overdetermines the expression of social identity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available