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Emergent-Norm Theory -- Research Starters Sociology

By: Christiansen, Jonathan;

2009 / EBSCO


This article examines the emergent norm theory of collective behavior. Emergent norm addresses several perceived deficiencies in prior theories of collective behavior, including contagion theory and convergence theory. A description of what is collective behavior is included, as well as a description of norms, followed by an examination of the major points of emergent norm theory. This includes a discussion of the social organization of crowds, a discussion of the role of anonymity and familiarity in crowd behavior, and the process of emergent norms in the public. A short discussion of the applicability of the theory for sociologists, authorities and social movement leaders is also included. Finally, there is a discussion of the critiques and potential shortfalls of the theory. These include the lack of emphasis on preexisting social relationships and power structures.