CITY MOBS: SOCIO-PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS

on Dec 25, 2012 , 10:43 pm
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CITY MOBS : SOCIO- PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS

by Sagi

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 Gandhis 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 .
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