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Social Change

The alteration, modification, or transformation of public policy, culture, or social institutions over time. Is usually brought about by collective behavior and social movements

Collective Behavior

Is voluntary, often spontaneous activity that is engaged in by a large number of people and typically violates dominant-group norms and values. It can take various formes, including crowds, mobs, riots, panics, fads, fashions, and public opinion.


A number of people who act together and may mutually transcend, bypass, or subvert established institutional patterns and structures.

Major Factors that Cause Collective Behavior

Structural factors that increase the chances of people responding in a particular way, timing, and a breakdown in social control mechanisms and a corresponding feeling of normlessness. A common stimulus is also an important factor.

Dynamics of Collective Behavior

Problems were not being solved through "official" channels. As the problem appeared to grow worse, organizational responses became more defensive and obscure. People believe there is strength in numbers. People may act as a collectivity when they believe it is the only way to fight those with greater power and resources.

Casual Crowds

Are relatively large gatherings of people who happen to be in the same place at the same time.

Conventional Crowds

Are made up of people who come together for a scheduled event and thus share a common focus.

Expressive Crowds

Provide opportunities for the expression of some strong emotion (such as joy, excitement, or grief).


A hightly emotional crowd whose members engage in, or are ready to engage in, violence against a specific target--a person, a category of people, or physical property.


A violent crowd behavior that is fueled by deep-seated emotions but not directed at one specific target.


A form of crowd behavior that occurs when a large number of people react to a real or perceived threat with strong emotions and self-destructive behavior.

Protest Crowds

Engage in activities intedned to achieve specific political goals.

Catagion Theory

Focuses on the social-psychological aspects of collective behavior. Le Bon argued that people are more likely to engage in antisocial behavior in a crowd because they are anonmous and feel invulnerable. Le Bon asserted that emotions such as fear and hatre are contagious in crowds because people experience a decline in person responsibility.

Circular Reaction

The interactive communication between persons wuch that the discontent of one person is communicated to another, who, in turn, reflects the discontent back to the first person.

Convergence Theory

Focuses on the shared emotions, goals, and beliefs that many people may bring to crowd behavior. People with similar attributes find a collectivity of like-minded persons with whom they can express their underlying personal tendencies. Although people may reveal their "true selves" in crowds, their behavior is not irrational; it is high predictable to those who share similar emotions or beliefs.

Emergent Norm Theory

Emphasizes the importance of social norms in shaping crowd behavior. Occurs when people define new situation as high unusual or see a long-standing situation in a new light. It points out that crowds are not irrational. Rather, new norms are developed in a rational way to fit the immediate situation.

Mass Behavior

A collective behavior that takes place when people (who often are geographically separated from one another) respond to the same event in much the same way. Some types are rumors, gossip, mass hysteria, public opinion, fashions, and fads.

Social Movement

An organized group that acts consciously to promote or resist change through collective action.

Reform Movements

Seek to improve society by changing some specific aspect of the social structure.

Revolutionary Movements

Movements seeking to bring about a total change in society.

Religious Movements

Are concerned with renovating or renewing people through "inner change."

Alternative Movements

Movements that seek limited change in some aspect of people's behavior.

Resistence Movements

Seek to prevent change or to undo change that has already occured.

Stages in Social Movements

Preliminary stage, coalescence stage, and institutionalization stage.

Preliminary Stage

Widespread unrest is present as people begin to become aware of a problem. Leaders emerge to agitate others into taking action.

Coalescence Stage

People begin to organize and to publicize the problem At this stage, some moevements become formally organized at local and regional levels.

Institutionalization Stage

An organizational structure develops, and a paid staff (rather than volunteers) begins to lead the group.

Relative Deprivation Theory

Refers to the discontent that people may feel when they compare their achievements with those of similarly situated persons and find that they have less than they think they deserve. People who suffer this are more likely to feel that change is necessary and to join a social movement in order to bring about that change.

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