Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Crowds, social identities and the shaping of everyday social relations

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, we address the relationship between crowd events and the social categories that organise our everyday lives. According to conventional wisdom, crowd events are a pathological disruption of everyday life caused by either a loss of individual identity or a congregation of individuals with pathological identities. We examine and critique this approach before going on to explore the various ways in which crowd events create and endorse social identities (group memberships) within the wider population of non-participants in society. In other words, if you want to understand social identities and social relations in society - both what they are and how they are produced - look to the crowd. Crowds constitute the social imaginary: they both reflect and shape the way we think about the groups to which we belong and our relations with others. The idea that crowds play a critical role in the construction of the social imaginary for both those who participate in crowds and those who observe them directly or through the media is controversial because it counters traditional wisdom, and at the root of this argument is a very specific understanding of social identities and their political significance.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolitical Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationA Social-Psychological Approach
EditorsChristopher J. Hewer, Evanthia Lyons
ISBN (Electronic)9781118982365
ISBN (Print)9781118929339
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2018

    Research areas

  • Crowds, Riot, Social identity, Social Psychology, Classic crowd psychology, Dispositional theories, Elaborated SIM, Individual identity, Political psychology, Social identity model

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. A social identity model of riot diffusion: from injustice to empowerment in the 2011 London riots

    Drury, J., Stott, C., Ball, R., Reicher, S. D., Neville, F. G., Bell, L., Biddlestone, M., Choudhury, S., Lovell, M. & Ryan, C. E., 2 Dec 2019, In : European Journal of Social Psychology. Accepted articles

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Who controls the city? A micro-historical case study of the spread of rioting across North London in August 2011

    Ball, R., Stott, C., Drury, J., Neville, F. G., Reicher, S. D. & Choudhury, S., 12 Nov 2019, In : City. Latest articles

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. A glossary for research on human crowd dynamics

    Consortium for the Physics and Psychology of Human Crowd Dynamics, Adrian, J., Amos, M., Baratchi, M., Beermann, M., Bode, N., Boltes, M., Corbetta, A., Dezecache, G., Drury, J., Fu, Z., Geraerts, R., Gwynne, S., Hofinger, G., Hunt, A., Kanters, T., Kneidl, A., Konya, K., Köster, G., Küpper, M. & 20 others, Michalareas, G., Neville, F., Ntonis, E., Reicher, S., Ronchi, E., Schadschneider, A., Seyfried, A., Shipman, A., Sieben, A., Spearpoint, M., Sullivan, G., Templeton, A., Toschi, F., van der Wal, N., van Schadewijk, F., von Krüchten, C., Wijermans, N., Yücel, Z., Zanlungo, F. & Zuriguel, I., 1 Mar 2019, In : Collective Dynamics. 4, p. 1-13 13 p., A19.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Re-reading the 2011 English riots: ESRC ‘Beyond Contagion’ interim report

    Drury, J., Ball, R., Neville, F. G., Reicher, S. D. & Stott, C., 28 Feb 2019, The Guardian newspaper.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  5. The evolving normative dimensions of "riot": toward an elaborated social identity explanation

    Stott, C., Ball, R., Drury, J., Neville, F., Reicher, S., Boardman, A. & Choudhury, S., 7 May 2018, In : European Journal of Social Psychology. Early View

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 247346810