Individuality and collectivity are central concepts in
sociological inquiry. Incorporating cultural history, social theory, urban and economic sociology, Borch proposes an innovative
rethinking of these key terms and their interconnections via the concept of the social avalanche. Drawing on classical sociology,
he argues that while individuality embodies a tension between the collective and individual autonomy, certain situations,
such as crowds and other moments of group behaviour, can subsume the individual entirely within the collective. These events,
or social avalanches, produce an experience of being swept away suddenly and losing one's sense of self. Cities are often
on the verge of social avalanches, their urban inhabitants torn between de-individualising external pressure and autonomous
self-presentation. Similarly, Borch argues that present-day financial markets, dominated by computerised trading, abound with
social avalanches and the tensional interplay of mimesis and autonomous decision-making. Borch argues that it is no longer
humans but fully automated algorithms that avalanche in these markets.
Acknowledgments; List of figures; 1. Introduction:
reimagining collective life; 2. Fin-de-siecle landslides; 3. Tensional individuality; 4. Social avalanches; 5. Cities; 6.
Financial markets; Conclusion; Index.
A compelling account of how crowd dynamics, or social avalanches, are central
to cities and financial markets.