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Crowds and DemocracyThe Idea and Image of the Masses from Revolution to Fascism$
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Stefan Jonsson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164788

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164788.001.0001

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The Revolving Nature of the Social

The Revolving Nature of the Social

Primal Hordes and Crowds Without Qualities

(p.119) 3 The Revolving Nature of the Social
Crowds and Democracy

Stefan Jonsson

Columbia University Press

This chapter argues that an understanding of Freud's Massenpsychologie und Ich-Analyse and the historical influences that shaped it is indispensable if we want to know what was meant by “the masses” in the interwar era. Freud deviated from the dominant German sociologists of the 1920s, who held on to the widespread idea that “the masses” was a bad and dangerous phenomenon or, in any case, a cause for worry and alarm. His explanation of crowd behavior transforms “the masses” so that it comes to signify a far more global, productive, and dynamic agency that cannot be confined within the narrow definitions and functions that the science of sociology or the ideology of national socialism had ascribed to it. Freud attempted to posit the mass as a fundamental epistemological category that serves to explain what holds societies together and what causes them to fall apart. This theory reaches far beyond the sociological discourse and the nationalist ideology of the era and takes moves into unmapped social terrain.

Keywords:   Freud, Massenpsychologie und Ich-Analyse, the masses, crowd psychology, crowd theory, society

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