Collective Dynamics

Collective Dynamics

Collective Dynamics

Collective Dynamics

Excerpt

The title of this volume departs from traditional usage; the phenomena studied have, since Park and Burgess identified the field in 1922, been grouped together and known as "collective behavior." The change in name, it seems to us, has some merit and is long overdue. "Collective behavior" implies that individual behavior is its opposite. The term defines, as Park recognized, the entire subject matter of sociology, and so it fails to dramatize the main distinction between patterns of interaction characterized by relative spontaneity, transitoriness, and volatility and the more clearly articulated, durable, and institutionalized forms with which so much of sociology is concerned. "Collective behavior" may arise outside of a framework of organization or entail its partial breakdown or radical transformation. The focus of this study is on certain dynamic aspects of social and institutional change; hence the term "collective dynamics" to differentiate the patterns that are our concern from those marked by continuity and relative stability.

Like the title, our treatment of the field is somewhat unconventional, yet, we trust, not so unconventional as to obscure the continuity. Our initial point of contact with the field, like that of so many others, was through the writings of Park, Blumer, and Wirth of the Chicago school. The range of subject matter included in this volume derives from this frame of reference. But in our specific formulations we have frequently and consciously parted with tradition.

There has been a persistent fascination among laymen and students with the way men in multitudes exhibit certain peculiar transformations of behavior deducible neither from their characteristics as individuals nor from the group norms which usually guide their actions. Accounts of such transformations have aroused interest among sociologists for another reason: they see in these manifestations of collective agitation the oper-

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