The Tiers that Bind: A Macro-Level Approach to Panic

November 2001 (VOL. 19, NO. 3)

Download this article

We clarify a theoretical conceptualization of panic as a collective phenomenon, develop an operational measure of the concept, and offer a way of contrasting differences across collectives (rather than among individuals) in order to determine if a panic as a collective action occurred. We illustrate our way of contrasting differences by using data from the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire of 1977, examining the proportions surviving of different social categories present in the Cabaret Room, where most of the deaths occurred. There is no evidence that a complete breakdown of these norms- a panic- occurred. We concluded that the evacuation of the Cabaret Room was dominated by a set of norms and role obligations consistent with the typical social order in which the (socially-defined) weak get help from the (socially-defined) strong, such as women helped by men.