Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: The Crowd

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Crowd

"The crowd mind" embodied the triumph of unreasoned instinct, whereas ''public opinion'' was the sum of ''individual critical attitudes"....Socalled public opinion is generally nothing more than a naive collective impulse which can be manipulated by catchwords''. - Robert Ezra Park. (Stuart Ewen, PR! Ch.7, p.135)

According to R.E.Park and Le Bon, people in crowds don't make their own decisions. They feel like one organism. By being part of the crowd, individuals lose all sense of self and responsibility. Yet, at the same time, they gain a sentiment of invincible power due to their numbers. They can break glasses, vote for or against something or sing and dance, just because everyone else is doing it. They understand what they are doing but it doesn’t have to make any sense.
Behaviors that relate to Le Bon's context are seen as inherent attributes of the crowd. Therefore one can assume that they can arise everywhere, irrespective of setting. By obscuring the social bases of behavior, “crowd action” is rendered mindless and meaningless.

I believe, that all the decisions and feelings of a crowd are the expression of the individual traits that can be picked up on by other members of the community. Eventually they become part of the overall mindset of the group. In this process, different members take on roles within the society, with some emerging as leaders, while others become active followers. Within each group’s psychology, there are also those that remain passive and tend to go along with the majority.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good discussion of the issues raised by men like Park and Le Bon. Is the crowd irrational and the public rational? Individual rationality versus the emotional mob? What are the implications for public relations and politics?

3/11/2009 10:37 PM  

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