Collective behavior is usually known as an activity with mass amounts of people
that is not pre arranged, may often leads to chaotic behavior, but not always (Macionis,
pg. 612). In high school I was on the dance team and was often involved and consumed
by gossip. I myself became involved because after hearing certain things I like to find out
the truth behind it. If something seems off or uncertain then I like to find the true story.
Often this leads to the spreading of rumors heard. This is one of the most common types
of collective behavior that I have heard of. In regards to a crowd Macionis has three
theories. These are known as the theories of contagion, convergence and emergent-norm.
All of these explain in different ways how being in a crowd may influence the thoughts or
actions of individuals who take part in them. People who fall into the contagion theory
are those who act and or make decisions they may not usually make alone, but do while
in a crowd. Some people feel as if a crowd gives them allotted freedom and safety due to
the large amounts of people usually found in a crowd. This theory focuses on the crowd
as a whole and that people make actions due to being in a crowd or the safety/freedom
they feel while in a crowd (Macionis pg. 615). The convergence theory focuses on each
individual who makes up a crowd. An example of those involved in this theory would be
protesters. If many individuals want to protest a company due to their beliefs then they
may come together by forming or joining a group and protest together. The emergent-
norm theory states that crowds are unpredictable but when like-minded people are
together in a crowd, then there are specific patterns of behavior (Macionis pg. 616). Even
if people in a crowd have similar interests the behavior depends on the individuals
involved and it’ll always be different. People in the crowds are like biofilms in which
they make different decisions and play different roles. All roles are important for the
functioning of the crowd. On page 616, Macionis also says that these crowds will make
decisions when needed, and as times or norms change, so will the crowd behavior.
One situation I was involved in has to do with the contagion theory. I was on duty
as a Resident Assistant and happened to be at the front desk. A group of students who
were loud, and had been out of the building stumbled in at 2 am. One kid in this blob of
students I had talked to and seen many times. Myself and the other RA on duty were
joining this group of people in order to get on the elevator and start our rounds. While
getting on this student standing in the middle of the group got on the elevator and flipped
off a couple of RA’s at the front desk and told them to “eff off RA’s”. We all knew this
kid and knew that in any other situation, or alone he would have never said or done that.
The anonymous aspects of a large group probably made him feel overly comfortable and
that we would never figure out he had done that. Luckily we had a clear view, witnesses
and cameras by the elevators. It was not the convergence theory because it was one
individual who chose to make a random action. We cannot be sure if they are like-minded
or if they are similar in any way. He did not reflect the opinions or outlook or the group.
It could not be explained by the emergent-norm theory because we have no idea how like
minded that group of individuals were. They were just a random group from off the bus
from all different locations on a weekend. They didn’t function as a crowd. They were
only gathered as a group because they all were getting on the elevator. Although true this
crowd was unpredictable we cannot be sure if they have similar interests of motives.
There are two major theories that best describe society and