Collective Behavior and Public Opinion
Rapid Shifts in Opinion and Communication
Routledge – 2003 – 320 pages
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.
Contents: Preface. Introduction: A New Vision. Part I: Mind Quakes. Public Opinion as a Complex Adaptive System (CAS). The Continuous Mutation of Informal Messages. Circular Reaction in Media Hypes. Part II: Emerging Collective Behavior. The Formation of Synergy in Crowds. The Emergence of Patterns in Opinion Currents. The Self-Organization of Social Movements. Part III: Shifting Public Moods. The Evolving Context of Fashion and Fads. Critical Thresholds in Fear and Panic. Possible Attractors in Outrage and Protest. Part IV: Conclusion. Phase Transitions in Crazes and Crashes. Prediction, Planning, and Fundamental Uncertainty. Epilogue: Issues Management.