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Rational Crowd Theory

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Nick Souter

on 4 December 2013

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Transcript of Rational Crowd Theory

Rational Crowd Theory
Rational Crowd Theory
A Critical Analysis of Reicher, Stott, Cronin and Adang (2004)
Reicher's contradiction
Classic Crowd Theory - Gustave Le Bon
"An individual in a crowd is a grain of sand amid other grains of sand, which the wind stirs up at will." (Le Bon, 1895, p.33).
Riot Case Study
London riots, 2011
Rational Crowd Theory
Classic Crowd Theory
Reicher's Theory
Supporting Research
Cocking, 2013; police techniques perpetuate social identity
Hoggett and Stott, 2010; police miss oportunities to improve efficacy
Borch, 2013; ACPO has adopted this approach, but 2011 riots show education may not be sufficient.
Stages involved in the existence of crowd
1. Submergence

2. Contagion

3. Suggestion

Alternative views
Festinger et al.,
- The loss of individuality leads to loss of control over internal or moral constraints.

R. C. Ziller (1964)
- Individuals are subject to deindividuation under more specific situational conditions.
E.g. rewarding conditions

- Challenges the idea of mass irrationality and policing strategies suggested by Le Bon.
+ More negotiated management styles.
Borch, C. (2013). Crowd Theory and the Management of Crowds: A Controversial Relationship. Current Sociology, 61, 584 – 602.
Clker.com. (2012). Home: Blue, Man, Stick. [illustration]. Retrieved from http://www.clker.com/clipart-blue-stick-man-4.html. Accessed date: 01 November 2013.
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Clker.com. (2011). Home: Green, Man, Stick, Lime. [illustration]Retrieved from http://www.clker.com/clipart-lime-green-stick-man-1.html. Accessed date: 01 November 2013
Clker.com. (2010). Home: Red, Man, Stick, Male, Figure. [illustration]. Retrieved from http://www.clker.com/clipart-redstickman.htmll. Accessed date: 01 November 2013.
Clker.com. (2012). Home: Yellow, Man, Stick. [illustration].Retrieved from http://www.clker.com/clipart-yellow-stick-man.html. Accessed date: 01 November 2013.
Cocking, C. (2013). Crowd Flight in Response to Police Dispersal Techniques: A Momentary Lapse of Reason? Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 10, 219 – 236.
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Croydon Green Party. (2011, August 10). Riots in Croydon: What we are seeing here is mindless vandalism. Croydon Green Oarty. Retrieved from http://croydon.greenparty.org.uk/news/what-we-are-seeing-here-is-mindless-vandalism.html.
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Hoggett, J. & Stott, C. (2010). The role of crowd theory in determining the use of force in public order policing. Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy, 20(2), 223 – 236.
Le Bon, G. (1895). The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind. p.33
Le Bon, G (2001). The Crowd: A study of the popular mind. Kitchener:Batoche Books.
Lewis, P., & Newburn T. (2011, December 5). The reading the riots project: our methodology explained. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/dec/05/reading-the-riots-methodology-explained.
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Reicher, S., Stott, C., Cronin, P. & Adang, O. (2004). An Integrated Approach to Crowd Psychology and Public Order Policing. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, 27(4), 558 – 572.
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Reicher's Key Implications for Policing Strategies
And Emergent Norm Theory
Mannes, Newton and Innes, 1982
Legitimizing Violence
The Agitator View
Self Policing
Overview of events
4th August- Death of Mark Duggan
6th August- Peaceful protest outside police station
Violence begins
7th August- Riots spread through London
8th August- Riots spread further to Manchester and Nottingham
12th August- Night passes off peacefully, but Metropolitan police still in large numbers
Intergroup behaviour: crowd vs. police
Crowd intentions
'Reading the riots', the Guardian and London School of Economics (2011). Found 3 main reasons for rioting:
1) Opportunism
2) Pervasive sense of injustice, eg. economic, social
3) Policing, including anger over the police shooting of Mark Duggan
Policing strategies
Escalation of strategies:
1) Little dialogue with peaceful protestors
2) Low-profile presence- high visibility jackets and soft hats
3) Large numbers, protective uniform, batons
4) Mounted officers
5) Dog-handlers
Highlighting of illegitimate individuals within crowds
Reicher and Stott (2011): "the accusation of mindlessness, the lazy language of the "mob", and the use of discredited deindividuation theories, is not just wrong. It is positively dangerous"
Rosie (2011): "Police seemed taken by surprise by the rapid escalation in Tottenham – that suggests that they need to be more proactive in talking to, liaising with, the community."
Applying Rational Crowd Theory to the London Riots

The Crowd: A study of the Popular Mind
Aims and Objectives:
Outline Le Bon's classic crowd theory
Outline Reicher's rational crowd theory
Discuss the implications of Reicher's theory
Discuss the limitations of these implications in relation to a case study
Outline supporting and challenging research to Reicher's approach
Very difficult to study social identity within a crowd.
May be difficult to find figures who are accepted by the crowd.
Efforts at communication may not have much of an effect on the crowd.
Very difficult to differentiate between those with legitimate aims and those with illegitimate aims.
Against human instinct.
Not very pragmatic.
What if the crowd does not have a legitimate aim?
The crowd members might have different aims.
Is this idea pandering to the crowd?
Le Bon's theory
- "Unanimous, emotional, and intellectually weak“
- "The bad leading the mad"
- capacity of violence increases
- rely upon indiscriminate force
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