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Beyond Crowd Psychology

The Power of Agoral Gatherings

Edited By Adam Biela

This book tries to answer some intriguing questions concerning the power of agoral gatherings. The 20 th century is discussed as an age of crowds and masses. The book asks why the communist system disappeared in Europe during the last two decades of the 20 th century and examines the factors which determined the collapse of the main military, political, social, economic and even symbolic infrastructures of the communist system in Europe. It poses the question why the end of communism in Europe was a peaceful phenomenon – except in the Balkan Peninsula. The author also discusses the predictability of this kind of phenomenon. In order to answer these questions the book introduces and extends the notion of agoral gathering as a new concept in the area of collective behavior and interprets the large-scale political transformations in Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s in terms of peaceful collective behaviors as a political alternative for post-communist countries.

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Jan Ferjenčik: Psychosocial Analysis of the Agoral Gatherings that Took Place During the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia

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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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