The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind Paperback – Jan 8 2002
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About the Author
Gustave Le Bon (1841 -1931) was a French social psychologist, sociologist, and amateur physicist. He was the author of several works in which he expounded theories of national traits, racial superiority, herd behavior and crowd psychology. His work on crowd psychology became important during the first half of the twentieth century when it was used by media researchers such as Hadley Cantril and Herbert Blumer to describe the reactions of subordinate groups to media. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
"A hundred petty crimes or petty accidents will not strike the imagination of crowds in the least, whereas a single great crime or a single great accident will profoundly impress them, even though the results be infinitely less disastrous than those of the hundred small accidents put together.
The epidemic of influenza, which caused the death but a few years ago of five thousand persons in Paris alone, made very little impression on the popular imagination. The reason was that this veritable hecatomb was not embodied in any visible image, but was only learnt from statistical information furnished weekly.
An accident which should have caused the death of only five hundred instead of five thousand persons, but on the same day and in public, as the outcome of an accident appealing stronly to the eye, by the fall for instance of the Eiffel Tower [sic], would have produced, on the contrary, an immense impression on the imagination of the crowd.
... To know the art of impressing the imagination of crowds is to know at the same time the art of governing them."
What came into my mind after reading that passage? Airplanes and collapsing towers. This book is a must read for any thinking person.
Gustave Le Bon was one of the first to apply psychology to the masses; his work influenced Wilfred Trotter, Edward Burnays, as well as Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler. Consumerism or fascism, take your pick, they were both heavily influenced by this book.
Le Bon outlined how an individual, no matter how well educated or how intelligent, loses his capacity for independent thought once he becomes immersed in the crowd. The crowd itself is not capable of rational thought, it merely reacts to images, emotions, suggestion. Governments, Le Bon states, had lost their ability to direct public opinion and, at best, could only hope to follow along behind the crowd, attempting to contain the damage done by the collective irrationality of group behaviour.
Individuals can lead the crowd though. However, in order to do this the individual must have what Le Bon called "prestige", i.e. the quality to hold the dangerous, unpredictable masses in awe and thus under control. Such a leader, through the use of simply stated slogans never subjected to rational explanation, through symbols, through appeals to the baser instincts of men, could lead rather than follow the crowd. However, this leader must be constantly on guard lest he lose his prestige with the crowd. As Le Bon states: "From the moment prestige is called in question it ceases to be prestige.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I thought it would be better than it was. It may just be that it's an older book and harder to keep my attention.Published 1 month ago by JeanLuc Boissonneault
Have you ever wonder why people gang-up on others? Why during Vancouver Riot in 2011, there were people that they had no criminal records or association with crime. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Peyman ADLDOUSTI