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From Multitude to Crowds: Collective Action and the Media

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Edited By Eduardo Cintra Torres and Samuel Mateus

From Multitude to Crowds: Collective Action and the Media presents a study of collective action in the 21 st century. Experts from Sociology, Political Science, Philosophy, Political Communication and Media Studies offer a multidisciplinary approach to social formations in contemporary collective action. The various contributions discuss the relevance of media and communications in social movements and how social mobilization has changed in mediatized societies.

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I Theoretical Approaches

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Todd Gitlin Crowds, Assemblies, Demonstrations, and Clusters The Crowd Fills a Vacuum The most unnerving American novelist of the past quarter century, Don DeLillo, wrote in his 1991 novel Mao II: “The future belongs to crowds” (DeLillo, 1991, p� 16)� The line has much quoted in the United States, and the reason is not hard to fathom� The apprehension that DeLillo evokes is plain� Crowds eat away at hu- manity� They are corrosive, fearful, and monstrous� They threaten the autonomy of the individual, erode her boundaries and usurp her will� Crowds are sinister, uncanny� You can almost hear the bass rumble of the background music and feel the suspense as we sit on the edges of our seats to learn which apocalypse awaits us� DeLillo’s brilliant and ominous suspicion has a long history� In Beyond Good and Evil, in 1886, Nietzsche famously warned of “herd morality,” deploring the practice by which “everything that elevates an individual above the herd and intimidates the neighbor is… called evil” (Nietsche, 1989, p� 201)� To Nietzsche, the herd morality was, at bottom, slave morality, whose “[m]oral judgments and condemnations constitute the favorite revenge of the spiritually limited against those less limited�” The moral judgment was the means by which “weak and me- diocre…weaken and pull down the stronger” (Nietzsche, 1989, p� 219)� An inter- esting sideline: Nietzsche seemed to argue that the herd works to the benefit of ordinary, that is, lesser, people; it was poison, however, to the higher type� After...

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