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Languages: English
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ACM Ref: Data_GENERAL
This thesis examines some perceptions of collective behaviour and psychology in some nineteenth and twentieth century literature. Focusing on selected works by three novelists, Charles Dickens's Barnaby Rudge (1841) and A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Emile Zola's Germinal (1885) and Elias Canetti's Auto-da-Fe (1935), it is an attempt to analyse the cultural representations of the nature, psychology and behaviour of crowds from 1841-1960. We attempt to contextualize the models of the crowd present in each novel and the interpenetration of the development of crowd theory and political experience. We also evaluate the novelists' attitudes towards the crowd and the implications of their approaches for public policy. We argue that Dickens, failing to distinguish between individual and collective psychology, has a pre-modern perception of the crowd. Zola, placing collective behaviour in a positivist framework presents a modern view of the crowd psychology that prefigures in essentials the classical crowd theory of Le Bon. Canetti, questioning the approach of received crowd theory, and the traditional presumption that the crowd is necessarily unconscious, instinctual and anti-social, presents a post-modern interpretation of the crowd which corresponds to the highly original insights of his crowd monograph, Crowds and Power.
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