The Power of Agoral Gatherings
Jan Ferjenčik: Psychosocial Analysis of the Agoral Gatherings that Took Place During the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia
Psychosocial Analysis of the Agoral Gatherings that Took Place During the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia Jan Ferjenčik 1. Introduction The simplest way to describe and then to analyze and interpret psychological processes present in mass social gatherings is to look immediately at what is go- ing on in the crowd. One person might observe the course of events directly, an- other may ask participants about their experiences during the gathering or some- body else could choose self-observation as an active participant. All these forms of choosing and collecting data are scientifically legitimate and useful. But I am deeply convinced that they are not sufficient for a full and proper understanding of what is really going on in a concrete mass gathering and why. Discussion re- garding Le Bon’s famous concept of the psychology of the crowd may serve as an excellent example. According to Le Bon, the crowd has two dominant char- acteristics: one of them is the inclination to unpredictable violent outbreaks; the second is de-individuation (1960). According to Le Bon, people immersed into the crowd lose their individual identity and emotional self-control. Their behav- ior and feelings become more and more unified in a sense of irrationality and emotional contagion. As such, the crowd is not viewed as the sum of its individ- uals but rather, as a self-organizing de-individualized and very homogenous en- tity. Because of lack of individual self-control, the crowd should be viewed as a potentially dangerous and erratic phenomenon. This view of the...
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