A crowd is a large group of people gathered so closely together that the individuals in that crowd are no longer able to maintain their own personal space. A crowd (as opposed, for example, to a group), has no strong common social relations, normative rules and division of roles.
A crowd can be made up of people with common purposes or set of emotions, such as at a political rally, at a sports event, or during looting (this is known as a psychological crowd), or simply be made up of many people going about their business in a busy area (e.g. shopping). The difference between a busy place and a crowd is that in a crowd the individuals are no longer able to maintain their own personal space, whereas at a busy place this need not be the case.
Sociologists have said crowds are directed by generalized feelings/motivations such as fear, guilt or traditionalism. Crowds in modern suburbia have been said to be particularly moved by the principle of "other-directedness", that is not be the sum of the motivation of the individuals that they are made up of but by external factors.
Properties of crowds
- Crowds are characterized by the fact that they are disorganized and many people are close together. This makes it hard for both people in the crowd and people outside the crowd to have an overview of the actions of an individual. These are circumstances criminals can take advantage of, as there are potentially many victims and the chances of being caught are slim.
- Crowds can be semi-permanent, such as the crowd in public transport hubs, such as metro or bus stations, or occasional, such as festivals or protest marches.
- The disorganized nature of crowd can lead to a riot breaking out. The likelihood of a riot can be correlated with the use of alcohol or drugs and an exited atmosphere.