CITY MOBS: SOCIO-PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS
CITY MOBS : SOCIO- PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS
The Gandhian principle of mass mobility through ‘Satyagraha’ was a non-violent mean for the peaceful aggregation of a crowd to address the authorities during the freedom struggle, led by the charismatic leader for a socio-political cause. The British authorities often felt helpless without Gandhi’s help in order to manage and control the crowd by moderation, although the rural charged ‘crowd’ was infused with the spirit of courage and resilience, for the freedom of the nation.
Post Gandhian era also witnessed the mobility of the crowd by charismatic socio-political leaders for socio-political cause by peaceful means. The numerous rallies were to assert the ‘fundamental rights’ of the people.
The modern day crowd formation, management and control is based not on the Gandhian principles,but on the socio-psychological behavior of individuals, that collectively as a crowd spills out on the streets with ‘herd’ tendencies seen after an entertainment event or a stadium venue, or during protest rallies resulting in a stampede . Often the congregation of the young adults collect to voice their ‘freedom’ against the authorities or the governance of the society as a protest on the streets, is a mob with ‘many mindless heads, but no leaders’. The intent of the initiators is a truthful effort to address their anxiety as young crusaders to be heard.
The aggregation of the ‘smart crowd‘ that normally constitutes the ‘intelligent’ youth, is by a technique sparked off by emotional will of an individual or a group with shared experiences, who have easy access to instant contact with mutual friends, colleagues in departments and office, to disseminate information by mobile phones, emails and social media to persuade individuals in a ‘closed circle’ to congregate at a particular venue or location that could be easily reached by personal or public transport. The ‘closed circle’ becomes a widening network when the ‘event’ is publicized through media.
There is no central planning or communication, except the media that often publicizes the ‘cause’ as sensational, bringing in more and more infiltrators to join the campaign. Rumors help mobilize the varying response in the city population.
It has been observed that a static congregation may in ‘mob’ mobility tendencies shift ; the propensity to follow the next obligated ‘push’ physically or through communication by an initiator, results in a change of direction in the mobility of the crowd. The mobility may be mercurial with individuals sending texts directions. The flow that is dynamic becomes volatile with the infiltration of ‘opportunist’ individuals or groups with political affiliations or even social group organizations for a sympathetic cause can change the dynamics of the ‘mob’ from a peaceful protest to a violent response. The ‘bad’ elements in the crowd initiate the violence through material and life destruction. They constitute about 6 % of the total crowd with no purpose but a fanatical effort to create mayhem.
The management of such a volatile ‘mob’ requires a central planning, communication and co ordination to first weed out the ‘bad’ elements and leaders of groups that initiate the ‘violence and destruction’. A constant monitoring system of the size of the ‘mob’ with early persuasive intervention technique by charismatic leaders or by celebrities can act as a buffer to disintegrate the ‘mob’.A delayed ‘wait and watch’ technique may be disastrous as it results in chaos and anarchy. Retaliation against physical assault becomes more violent from slogan shouting to active destructive participation in insane revenge .