Explain the Place of Anonymity in Theories of Crowd Behaviour. Is It Always Associated with a ‘Loss of Self’

Explain the place of anonymity in theories of crowd behaviour. Is it always associated with a ‘loss of self’ (Dixon and Mahendran, 2012, p. 13)?

Understanding crowd behaviour is important as it has social, political and practical implications.   Mann (1980) when researching ‘baiting’ crowds found a few contextual factors that explain when and why such behaviour occurs.   In each of these cases, individual crowd members were found to feel a greater sense of anonymity.   It appears then that ‘‘anonymity shapes crowd behaviour ’’ (Dixon and Mahendran, 2012, p.3)
Le Bon’s (1895) research provided the basis for later psychological research on crowd behaviour.   He did not put forward a theory on crowd behaviour but he did identify some important processes. According to Le Bon, individual rationality is lost when part of a crowd, and crowd members are more likely to act impulsively and are more inclined to suggestion, a process Le Bon called ‘contagion’ where ideas and emotions race through the crowd.   In such a state, crowd members may behave with unconscious aggressive instincts.   Importantly, according to Le Bon, crucial to understanding the psychological effects of crowds is the experience of being one among many.   This makes crowd members feel anonymous and so less accountable for their personal actions as they are lost in the collective.
Le Bon’s work has been criticised on a few accounts.   Firstly his explanation of crowd behaviour was politically biased; he saw them as a threat to social hierarchy and something that needed to be controlled and so perhaps he regarded crowds more as a ‘mob’ than as a ‘crowd’.   Supporting evidence is also absent; he made many personal observations from afar, and spent hardly any time within a crowd himself.   He may have misrepresented crowd behaviour as irrational and destructive.   (Dixon and Mahendran, 2012,)
An alternative concept but a similar core idea has been proposed for understanding the individual-group relationship....