In The New Collective Behavior in Digital Society: Connection, Contagion, Control, Raymond L.M. Lee offers an updated view on the sociology of crowds. While the era of crowds that Le Bon famously wrote about more than a century ago reflected the social and political crises of his time, in the twenty-first century we encounter a completely new scenario with crowds forming online or morphing into swarms in digital space. Lee confronts large gatherings that are only virtually present and investigates collective behaviors that are not always palpable and visceral. This is the age of digital dominance where the collective becomes reduced to ones and zeros to become more vulnerable to the social and political interventions of our time. This book attempts to discern and dissect those interventions, focusing on the power of virality that sustains networks, assemblages, and platforms to generate new collective behaviors in an era of smartphones, surveillance, and pandemics that were never imagined in Le Bon’s time.
Raymond L. M. Lee, PhD (University of Massachusetts-Amherst), was previously on the sociology faculty at the University of Malaya, Malaysia and presently is a non-affiliated researcher of modernity, religion and mass society.
Chapter 1. The Crowd after History
Chapter 2. The Power of Virality
Chapter 3. Smartphone Nation
Chapter 4. Sleepwalkers, Inc
Chapter 5. The Data Imperative
Chapter 6. Fear, Terror, and Mass Hysteria
Appendix: The Digital Divine
About the Author
"Raymond L.M. Lee's book vividly unpacks a scholarly lag between old theories of collective behavior and contemporary approaches to digital networks. Lee explores contagious sociality in digital cultures, not by predictably calling for an end to crowd theory but instead demonstrating how theorists have more recently transformed the study of collectivity by bringing in new (and resuscitated) concepts of virality, invisible masses, phantom-events, shapeshifting, and somnambulism. There are, indeed, crowds in networks and networks in crowds."
"While the Internet, social media, and digital devices are often analyzed as the new foundation of people's individualization and self-realization, Raymond L.M. Lee looks at the phenomenon from a completely different angle: collective behavior and action are the focus of a very knowledgeable, historically rooted look at the digital transformation of mass society. Essential reading for anyone who wants to learn more about this other side of the digital society."