Making Sense of January 6th: What We Know About Why Mobs Emerge

I just posted this on the Wicked Problems, Wicked Solutions blog. I’m including the first couple of paragraphs below. Here’s the link to the complete post.

On January 6,2021, I watched with millions of other Americans as Trump supporters stormed and vandalized the Capitol. As I navigated between social media and cable news, I heard reporters on the ground repeatedly comment about seemingly different factions of the mob. They observed that while some of the MAGA mob roamed the halls, snapping selfies of themselves with statues holding Trump flags and sitting in the chairs of high-ranking elected officials, others seemed intent on escalating the violence. Some mob members swept the building with bats and zip ties, calling out for the “traitors” Vice President Mike Pence and House Leader Nancy Peolsi. Outside others erected a gallows near the Capitol Reflecting Pool.   

How are we to make sense of the extreme behavior we witnessed on January 6th?

Social scientists, particularly those who study collective behavior and social movements, have a lot of insight into why individuals might participate in extremist movements and engage in collective behavior. In this post, I will discuss frustration as one potential explanatory variable for the violence we witnessed….

The feature image was taken by TapTheForwardAssist and is available on WikiCommons.

About Double take Sociology

I am a Professor of Sociology, a Research Associate in the Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy, and an Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Community Engagement in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University. I research (and write about) social movements, mass media and politics. To find links to my research, visit
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