Crowd: Collective Behaviour: Difference between Crowd and Mass

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  • A set of people who are physically close together and share a common concern is known as crowd
  • Temporary and unstructured group
  • Eg: Group of people gathered in a vegetable market to sell or purchase vegetables

Difference between Crowd and Mass

Mass is a relatively large number of persons who are anonymous, spatially dispersed, reacting to one or more of the stimuli by acting individually without regard to another.

Common Characteristics Are

  • They vary greatly in character and Behaviour
  • Crowd of one type differs from a crowd of different types


  • Exaggerated emotions, feelings, excitement
  • They are carried away by others՚ opinions and feelings


  • They feel that their identities remain anonymous
  • They feel insignificant and remain unrecognized
  • It leads to irresponsible Behaviour of the members


  • Spontaneously formed
  • Highly temporary in nature
  • Likely to be impulsive


  • Lacks self-consciousness.
  • Behave freely
  • Do not bother about the hold of social control mechanisms

Types of Crowd

According to Herbert Blumer in 1951


  • Gather around a specific event
  • Members have little interaction
  • Loosely structured
  • Least emotional involvement
  • Example crowd surrounding spot of road accident


  • Deliberately planned and relatively structured
  • Follows norms and conventions
  • This crowd gathers for socially sanctioned purpose
  • Example Graduation ceremony


  • To let out emotions
  • Personal gratification of their members viewed as an activity and end in itself
  • Example: Holika Dahan


  • Specific action or goal mobbing riots
  • Extreme forms of Behaviour
  • Members are angry
  • Acting against something
  • Least common one yet socially most significant

Theories of Crowd Behaviour

Contagion Theory

  • Gustave Le Bon 1895
  • Collective mind
  • Conscious personality of members disappear
  • Dominated by single impulse
  • Act similar
  • Melt into the group and become anonymous
  • Less capable of rational thought
  • One՚s personal beliefs become less important
  • Contagious growth of a belief spread throughout the crowd

Emergent Norms Theory

  • Most accepted theory
  • Turner and Killian, 1972
  • Consider differences in the motives and actions of crowd members
  • Some are more impulsive, and some are passive supporters
  • Unanimity of the crowd is only an illusion
  • Crowds are guided by norms
  • Norms are advised according to situation and not in the beginning - Wallace and Wallace

What is a Mob?

  • Important form of acting crowd
  • A mob is an emotionally aroused crowd bent on violent action, according to I. Robertson
  • Aggressive intent
  • Impose strong conformity on the members
  • Temporary and unstable in character
  • Limited but immediate objectives


  • Loose textured groups
  • Physical closeness
  • Leads to social interaction
  • Bound by interpersonal contact


Purposive and Active Mobs

  • Deliberately planned by some parties to achieve their own purpose
  • Example opponents of a political leader purposefully attacking a big rally

Confused and Random Mobs

  • Not deliberately created
  • No attempt to give direction to the followers
  • Due to confusion a crowd me get converted into a mob
  • Sudden outburst of people
  • Leads to disturbances


Q. 1. ________ has divided crowd into homogeneous and heterogeneous.

(a) Blumer

(b) Le Bon

(c) Lepoid

(d) Miller

Ans. (b) When it is very definite and constant the crowd may be called homogeneous, and when not so definite and constant, heterogeneous

Q. 2. Which one of the following is not a characteristic of a crowd?

(a) It is transitory

(b) Its members must be physically present

(c) It is seldom organized

(d) It is always organized

Ans. (d)

Q. 3. Members of a crowd come together to achieve: (a) Temporary but common purpose (b) Common and lasting purpose (c) Durable purpose with fore-sight (d) Neither common nor durable purpose Ans. (a)

Q. 4. Agoraphobia ′ is the fear of

(A) Height

(B) Blood

(C) Crowd

(D) Animal

Answer: (C)