What is it about?

People have always counted crowds. New technologies provide more sophisticated ways of doing so. And results can be disseminated widely. In politics, audience numbers, protest numbers, rally or supporter numbers are all closely monitored. We explain why people are so interested and what it means when numbers fail to live up to expectations.

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Why is it important?

A regular person in one part of the world is more likely than ever to learn about the number of people who attended a protest, say, in another part of the world. Connecting with the dynamics of protest behaviour, crowd counting technology represents a potentially new political tool.


This paper started as a study of reference points, behavioural economics and protests. This was 2017 or 2018 and there had been a lot of protests in the preceding few years. The paper is still about that, to some degree. But it became more about the counting of crowds (or audience numbers etc.), the role of technology, and the partisan-political implications.

Dr Peter J Phillips
University of Southern Queensland

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Crowd counting: a behavioural economics perspective, Quality & Quantity, February 2021, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1007/s11135-021-01117-7.
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