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Collective Action in Sociology

Collective actions are actions by a group of people with specific goals or objectives. They have their own subjectivity that is different from individual participants. They may undergo cooperation, conflict, competition or accommodation in general. They can either be organized or unorganized and institutionalized or non-institutionalized. Its organization, ideology, goals and leadership also define structure of collective actions. Protests, agitations, revolutions, social movements, NGOs, mass production etc. are some popular forms of collective actions. One of the most famous classifications of collective actions is given by Herbert Blumer in his Critiques of Research in the Social Sciences 1939 in the form of four types of collective actions- 

The Crowd– Neil Smelser and others associate three forms of emotions with the crowd that is panic (an expression of fear), craze (an expression of joy), hostile outburst (an expression of anger). The crowd may be either a compact or a diffuse crowd.

The Public- It is different from the crowd in the sense that crowd is formed on the basis of a single emotion while public is formed on the single issue. Public can be classified in many forms depending upon the number of issues.

The Mass- Mass differs from crowd and public, as it is not defined by the forms of interaction but by the efforts of those who use a particular mass media like print to address an audience.

The Social Movement- An active movement tries to change the society and on the other hand an expressive movement tries to change its own members.

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