Deindividuation Theory Essay

1682 Words7 Pages
How might deindividuation theory explain the looting behaviour that sometimes accompanies crowd riots? What are the strength and limitations of this kind of approach to understanding collective behaviour. During the summer 2011, London was the witness to a violent wave of protests, turning into riots and leading to crowds vandalizing and looting shops and starting arsons. The wide spread of the looting shocked the nation and led to many questions about the reasons behind. In this essay, we will study this question by using the deindividuation theory, as well as Gustave Le Bon’s perspectives into crowd behaviour and Henri’s Tajfel’s social identity theory. We will consider the strengths, then the weaknesses of this approach, and will finish by offering alternative paths to explore, for a more complete answer. For decades, deindividuation theory has been discussed and used to understand the transformation of an individual when in a crowd. To a large extent, deindividuation theory is based on the crowd theory by Le Bon (1895/1995). According to his book The Crowd: A study of the popular mind (1985) being in a crowd offers anonymity on an individual and therefore personal level. Social inhibitions are decreased, especially when suggestibility and contagion are combined1. Deindividuation occurs when an individual feels that he can behave outside social norm, e.g. acting violently, or commit a crime when thinking that responsibilities are not completely on him or in the hope of not getting caught. According to Le Bon, it is when an individual feels deindividuated, that it enables him to behave in an antisocial manner despite not acting this way in more normal situations. Furthermore, an individual can become submerged when in the crowd, which can lead to a capacity for uncivilized and immoral acts. One example of deindividuation and its direct correlation to
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