Crowd

Teacher Education Training states that a crowd is the most temporary and unstable social group and has no specific structure or organisation, it is just a collection of people who have been drawn together by a momentary excitement of an instinct like that of curiosity or sympathy. As long as the members are together, they think, feel and act as a group. But this ‘we feeling’ is transient and it dissolves as soon as the crowd dissolves. As the crowd is a short-lived group, it has no enduring membership. The composition keeps on changing. Further, this factor also prevents it from having sentiments or memories. Crowds can be classified into audience and mob. An audience, as found in a theatre or at a lecture, has a pre-determined order or classification. There is a defined pattern of seating arrangement and an accepted decorum of manners. An audience can, however, be casual or intentional. The collection of people around a street juggler or the victim of an accident is an example of a casual audience. None of the constituting members had previous planned to be present at that spot. But people in a theatre form an audience. Each one had made previous plans to be present in the theatre at a particular time.

The mob on the other hand is an unorganised, rapidly growing collection of people. It is characterised by the exhibition of uninhibited passion and violence destructive tendencies. Mobs are usually seen in action during riots and political meetings. It, must however, be noted that a well organised audience can suddenly turn into a mob. Often, a patient audience at a political meeting can suddenly take umbrage at a statement and turn rowdy or the announcement that there is a fire in the theatre will turn a sophisticated and cultured audience into a panic mob. A mob can also be turned into an audience. This transformation is seen when a violent mob quietens down to listen to the appeals and explanations of a popular leader.

Behaviour of the Crowd

According to Teacher Training Distance Learning the most striking feature of the crowd behaviour is that individuals who compose it lose much of their identity. Only the common element among the constituent members remains. The common element may consist of instincts. These get fused together and they result in mod behaviour. It is thus said that a crowd, the heterogeneous swamped by the homogeneous. As the individual lose their identity, they are bound by an inexplicable sympathy; they become more prone to suggestion and almost unconsciously imitate the prevailing behavioural trend. In the crowd, the individual sheds all his inhibitions. People who would never wish to be found yelling and pelting stones in the streets would do so wholeheartedly in a crowd. A factor that facilitates this shedding of inhibitions is that the crowd offers the refuge of anonymity. No individual can be easily held responsible for any action done by a crowd. Further, feeling is generally contagious in a crowd. Even those individuals who never intended to indulge in violence are often swept away by the upsurge of mass expression of feelings. This is often evident during student demonstrations. Thus we can surmise that the behavioural level of the crowd is lower than that of the individuals.