Monday, October 29, 2007

Celebration Contagion

I have to admit that in all the years I've studied collective behavior and mobs/riots, I've never understood the idea of "celebrating" your sports team's victory by burning down your city.

37 Arrested at World Series Celebrations:

BOSTON (AP) -- Police in riot gear cleared several large crowds gathered around Fenway Park early Monday after the Red Sox won their second World Series title in four years.

"Police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said 37 arrests were made in the city, mostly for disorderly conduct. No serious injuries were reported.

"An unruly crowd flipped a pickup truck to its side near Fenway Park and at least one car fire was reported. Young people sprayed each other with beer and some climbed street signs or utility poles."

Clearly not all mobs and riots are fueled by hate and anger, or even a sense of social injustice. But usually there is some longstanding grievance or anger that spurs violent action on behalf of a mob of people. And swept up in the contagion, a new norm emerges that allows people, cloaked in the anonymity of the crowd, to do things they wouldn't normally do. As Blumer noted back in the 60's, crowds can go from casual to acting rather quickly.

But it still strikes me as odd that we only see rioting and mob violence in the team of the victorious city. Seems to me the people of Denver, given the Rockie's unbelievable string of decisive victories to get to the Series, should have been the ones rioting last night.

No comments: