Collective Behavior and Public Opinion: Rapid Shifts in Opinion and Communication

Collective Behavior and Public Opinion: Rapid Shifts in Opinion and Communication

Collective Behavior and Public Opinion: Rapid Shifts in Opinion and Communication

Collective Behavior and Public Opinion: Rapid Shifts in Opinion and Communication

Synopsis

This is a highly innovative and stimulating work with the outline of an entirely new approach to massive and rapid shifts in opinion and communication. It discusses and explains such mysterious phenomena as sudden crazes and crashes, fads and fashion, hypes and manias, moral outrage and protests, gossip and rumors, and scares and panics. Rich in alternative insights, the book is divided into four parts. Part I discusses the points of departure: the most relevant processes of opinion formation and communication. Part II is about phenomena on three different levels, that have traditionally been studied within the twin fields of mass psychology and collective behavior sociology. Part III focuses on the three prime forms of "emotional coloring" of opinion currents and public moods. Part IV discusses a combination of some of the aforementioned phenomena: successive crazes and crashes in financial markets, and looks at why technological and economic, and social and opinion forecasts often fail so miserably. The audience for this book includes students of social and mass psychology, social movements and collective behavior sociology, and opinion and communication in general. Professionals in public relations, marketing, health, finance, and politics, as well as the educated lay audience, will also find this book of interest.

Excerpt

I could honestly title this book “What I wish I had known forty years ago. ” It is a book of ideas, observations and lessons learned, not a book of management techniques.

—Richard Farson, American management consultant (Farson, p. 16)

Of all the prizes that come from surviving more than 50 years, the best is the freedom to be eccentric. What a joy to be able to explore the physical and mental bounds of existence in safety and comfort, without bothering whether I look or sound foolish.

—James Lovelock, British environmentalist (Lovelock, 1979, p. 3)

The first ideas for this book occurred to me some 10 years ago. After a prolonged absence, I had returned to take up lecturing again at Amsterdam University's Baschwitz Institute for Collective Behavior Studies. Prodded on by its director, Professor Marten Brouwer, I had also (rather belatedly) completed my doctoral dissertation, on Crowds, Psychology and Politics. But I still felt ill at ease with the reductionist climate that prevailed in most relevant fields.

As a freelance writer and traveling reporter during the intermediary period, I had been confronted with strange distant cultures and with dramatic historical events, which seemed to challenge the standard research recipe: “To measure is to know, to know is to predict, to predict is to control. ” So I was very interested when I heard through the media about a major revolution that was apparently unfolding in the natural sciences, around such notions as “chaos and order, ” “complexity and simplicity, ” emerging patterns . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.