Conceptions of Crowds and Crowding

Part of the Springer Series in Social Psychology book series (SSSOC)


In a volume that has as its topic theories of crowd mind and behavior, taken as one origin of social psychology, it appears consistent if not compelling to include theories of crowding. The linguistic relationship of “crowds” and “crowding” is most evident in the English language, in which “crowd” can be used as a noun or a verb. In the German language, the situation is completely different. There are no verbal forms, derived from Masse or Menge or any other equivalent of “crowd,” which could be used for “crowding”; the situation is similar in French, where neither la masse nor la foule have corresponding verbal derivations. Thus, we are always at a loss when we have to translate “crowding” both in everyday language and in scientific discourse. But beyond the linguistic labels it is the phenomena, which we describe as crowds and crowding, that seem to belong to the same category of events or experiences, or at least, they seem to overlap. If we think of crowds as large numbers of people we typically imagine them as packed together in close proximity to each other. “(Too) many people in (too) little space” may serve as a preliminary schema signifying some basic communalities between phenomena of crowds and of crowding. Before we look at such communalities and distinctive features of crowds and crowding more closely I will outline briefly the reason and purpose of this chapter.


Collective Behavior Spatial Density Mass Destruction Social Facilitation Crowd Behavior 
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