Rioting this past weekend has some people in the CSU community
wondering what went wrong.
Sociologists often link incidents such as these to collective,
or mob, behavior. This sort of behavior is usually characterized by
large groups of people spontaneously participating in activities
that violate dominant values.
“Individuals as individuals behave differently than when they
are together in groups,” said Prabha Unnitham, a sociology
professor at CSU.
Many CSU students are no strangers to this sort of group
“I can understand going along with the rest of the group,” said
Briana Phillips, a senior business management major. “I can’t
understand how it would get that bad.”
Ryan Phillips, a freshman business major, thinks some
individuals may lose their common sense in a situation with so many
“It’s like strength in numbers, but in the wrong direction,”
Phillips said. “When you’ve got more people doing something like
that you don’t think about getting in trouble.”
Sociology department Chair Lou Swanson said alcohol consumption
can play a large role in riot behavior as well.
“Lowered inhibitions associated with drunken behavior has got to
be a factor,” said Swanson, who is also sociology professor. “Once
you have alcohol involved in a large disorderly group, you’re
likely to have an interaction on multiple events.”
“I think in American society the idea is that alcohol is a
lubricant,” Unnithan said. “It allows you to say things and do
things you might not otherwise say or do.”