No theory forbids me to say "Ah!" or "Ugh!", but it forbids me the bogus theorization of my "Ah!" and "Ugh!" - the value judgments. - Theodor Julius Geiger (1960)

The Negativity of Collective Behavior

Unity among individuals often arises through negation. Particularly in mass actions and revolutions, divergent motives converge around purely negative or destructive goals. This phenomenon is exemplified in historical events like the Russian revolution and Swiss referenda.

The negativity of collective bonds manifests in various contexts, such as:

- the simplification of norms as social circles widen;

- the prevalence of prohibitive rules over prescriptive ones.

Universal norms, like logical principles, serve as the foundation for intellectual and social interaction; their negative character shows in defining what shouldn't be done rather than promoting specific actions.

Social forms and civility play a role in signaling respect and cohesion within groups; their absence or violation can starkly indicate the absence of underlying positive sentiments.

So, the cohesion of collective groups often hinges more on what they refrain from doing rather than what they actively pursue. Adherence to negative norms serves to maintain the unity of these social circles.

Simmel, G. (1908), Exkurs über die Negatlvität kollektiver Vertialtungsweisen, in: Soziologie - Untersuchungen über die Formen der Vergesellschaftung, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot.