2 Groups and politics
In this course, you will examine different aspects of our ‘human-ness’ where we are, so to say, not alone and are joined by actual or imagined others. One such aspect of the social is politics. As was previously mentioned, behaviour of groups often go hand in hand with political concerns. In fact, the research on crowd behaviour had from its inception been suffused with political issues as Le Bon himself criticised riotous crowds from a particularly conservative and royalist political perspective. Likewise, celebrating the politically transformative potential of the crowd, contemporary researchers tend to focus on distinctly progressive, left-of-centre gatherings rather than, say, neo-Nazis.
While significantly absent in the Magh Mela case (yet, as mentioned, having a large impact on it, precisely due to its absence), you will now turn to an event where politics is conspicuously present: a manifestation of the Israel/Palestine conflict in British public life.
The broader issue at stake here is the very direction between politics and crowds, news reportage and publics. As you will see, while one may assume publics (note the use of the plural here to indicate the multi-dimensional nature of the phenomenon!) to act rather passively here, swayed by politics or merely consuming news item, you will consider another aspect of these relationships: that of engaged publics, forming and in no insignificant respects constructing both politics and supposedly neutral news of the world.