However large, the heterogeneity of campaigners and protesters’ ‘crowd’ does not convey the powerful idea of mobilisation associated with the image of an even small but homogenous protesting ‘mass’. “The hallmark of activism is unity”, because ‘unity makes strength’, goes the motto. The silent march of women heads bowed and dressed in red cloaks and white bonnets, the red robe of the TV series ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (picture on the right) is a clear example of uniform’s practical benefits. The uniformity of the costumes helps the group present a unified image.
Unlike the old days, showing engagement and expressing indignation about social issues and political matters in large numbers is no longer enough for an action to stand out and trigger transformative social changes.
Campaigners and protesters participating in public actions usually wear their own cloths, but this makes it difficult to distinguish them from bystanders and passing-byers. This fuels the known disputes between competing estimates.
By reporting large numbers, organisers aim to state and stress the power of their protests. By declaring conservative figures, decision-makers aim to justify their decision to ignore public actions they consider focus groups, and disengage with interlocutors they define disorganised campaigners. When the crowd does not offer particularly newsworthy features, the media feel justified not to pay the cause due attention.
Learn about the other weaknesses we have identified.