Crowds and their Vicissitudes: Psychology and Law in the South African Court-room

  • N. Chabani Manganyi


In legal and professional psychology circles in South Africa, the relationship between psychology and law is not yet clearly and formally recognized. When practitioners of these disciplines encounter each other in the courts as they often do these days, much ignorance, suspicion and ambivalence is evident. Several complex reasons account for this mutual distrust and yet there appears to be ample justification for a creative rapprochement both inside and outside the court-room. Experience elsewhere (the United States for example) points in the direction of a mutually enriching encounter between psychology and law.1


Justice System Social Identity Common Purpose Social Identity Theory Crowd Behaviour 
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    See, Michael Billig, review of ‘The Age of the Crowd: A Historical Treatise on Mass Psychology’, British Journal of Social Psychology, 25 (1986) 353–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    In particular, Stephen Reicher, ‘Crowd Behaviour as Social Action’, in J. C. Turner (ed.), Rediscovering the Social Group: A Self-categorization Theory ( Oxford: Blackwell, 1987 ) 171–202.Google Scholar
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    See for example, Ed Diener, ‘Deindividuation: The Absence of Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation in Group Members’, in P. Paulus (ed.), Psychology of Group Influence (Hillsdale. NJ: Erlbaum, 1980 ) 209–42.Google Scholar
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    See Herbert C. Kelman: ‘Violence Without Moral Restraint: Reflections on the Dehumanization of Victims and Victimizers’, Journal of Social Issued, 29 (4), 1973, 25–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Nicholas Haysom, Mabangalala: The Rise of Right-Wing Vigilantes in South Africa. Occasional Paper no. 10, Centre For Applied Legal Studies (Johannesburg: University of the Witwatersrand, 1986 ) p. 1.Google Scholar
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    W. Lance Bennett and Martha S. Feldman, Reconstructing Reality in the Courtroom: Justice and Judgement in American Culture (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1981), argue in their book that whether evidence in court (a story) is judged true or false is dependent on the story’s structural adequacy. Various strategies are used by both prosecution and defence lawyers to ensure such structural adequacy.Google Scholar

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© N. Chabani Manganyi and André du Toit 1990

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  • N. Chabani Manganyi

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