Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

pp 341-344

Crowd Psychology

  • John DruryAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, University of Sussex Email author 


The topic of crowd psychology has at times been central to the subdiscipline of social psychology, and at other times marginal. Its relative prominence in textbooks and curricula has partly reflected the extent to which wider society has seen “the crowd” as a major social problem. So-called “crowd science” first emerged in late nineteenth-century France as a response to the perceived threat of “the mob” to the social order and indeed to civilization itself. Today, “crowd psychology,” or “crowd behavior,” typically refers to the topic of conflict in crowds, the “problem” specified by this first wave of theory. However, there are other areas of study that fall under the heading of crowd psychology, more broadly conceived. One is the study of crowds in emergencies. Another is the study of the effects of crowding. Sociological accounts of crowd behavior have also been put forward. Indeed from the outset there has been discussion about whether the topic of the crowd ...

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