„Zusammenhanglose Bevölkerungshaufen, aller inneren Gliederung bar“. Die Masse als das Andere der Ordnung im Diskurs der Soziologie

Susanne Lüdemann


This article deals with the conceptual history of the “crowd” (Masse) in modernity, especially in French crowd psychology and in early German sociology. It shows that, ever since the French Revolution, the “crowd” has been conceptualized as the ‘Other’ of the social order, whether this ‘Other’ has been considered to be threatening, a danger to society, or, on the contrary, the revolutionary source of social change. Between the concepts of “class” on the one hand and “the people” on the other, the concept of the “crowd” became a sort of placeholder or signifier of any social formation that doesn’t fit into the social order, of any collective phenomenon that couldn’t be classified within the framework of sociological categories. It therefore also functioned as the reentry of that which was excluded into the very social order from which it was excluded. Whether it was defined as the absence of agency, as instinctual force, or as the bare product of social dissociation, the “crowd” has always raised the issue of the ‘social bond’ itself and of its dependence on (social and conceptual) disbandment, disorder, and dissemination.



DOI: https://doi.org/10.6094/behemoth.2014.7.1.775