Collective Mental State and Individual Agency: Qualitative Factors in Social Science Explanation

  • William W. Bostock University of Tasmania
Keywords: collective mental state, collective consciousness, contagion, individual agency, responsibility


Recent violent events such as attacks on civilian targets and political assassinations in countries not usually susceptible to these have created a need to revive interest in the ancient concept of collective consciousness. In this article, the concept in its current reformulation as collective mental state, and the attempts of individual agents to control, shift and otherwise manage it, are examined. It is concluded that allowance for the unmeasurable and unpredictable qualitative factors of the collective mental state and the effect upon it of individual agency is essential in social science explanations. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs020317


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

William W. Bostock, University of Tasmania
William W. BOSTOCK is currently Senior Lecturer in Government at the University of Tasmania, Australia. His research interests include language and culture policy, mental health policy, leadership studies, and higher education policy.