Why do crowds cause trouble? Exploring affective instability in collectivity

Maíra Magalhães Lopes, Joel Hietanen, Jacob Ostberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Through our ethnographic study of urban activism collectives in São Paulo, we propose another approach for exploring the process of collective formations and their longevity. Rather than seeking out the representational meanings of individualized communities, we approach collectivity from the perspective of crowds. Crowds are affective. Crowds are contagious. By adopting affect-based theorizing, we discuss affective intensities that bring about collectivity before the individuals awaken to narrate their meaning-makings. In our ethnographic context, collectives resist manifestations of gentrification (i.e., consumer culture in itself) and offer us a multifaceted site of being and becoming with the crowds. We explore how connections and disconnections affectively rekindle the social expression of collective bodies in consumer culture. This way, we add new dimensions to extant theorizing of consumer collectivity that tends to focus on individualized meaning, stability, and harmony.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-560
Number of pages22
JournalMarketing Theory
Issue number4
Early online date5 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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