The Power of the Crowd
Being part of a large gathering of people can be a powerful experience. Samira Ahmed explores the relationship between the individual and the crowd.
There are many different ways people come together: as an audience, a mob, or a congregation. Being an individual member of a large gathering can be an empowering and celebratory experience. It can also be an isolating one.
As she watches the group of people she's so often part of - the travelling throng at Waterloo station - Samira Ahmed explores the relationship between the individual and the crowd.
She considers the beauty of city hordes on their mass manoeuvres; the pleasure she takes in people watching; and the ways individuals can find a profound sense of camaraderie in a large group. And she looks at the riotous mobs as encountered by John Wesley in the eighteenth century and in 1940s Harlem, as witnessed by James Baldwin.
She speaks to Stephen Reicher of the University of St Andrews about the psychology of individuals when they gather together - from train commuters to the Kumbh Mela in India. And we hear from Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer David Lang about Crowd Out, his new piece for a community of one thousand voices.
Featuring music by Edith Piaf, Brownie McGhee and Thomas Tallis and with the words of George Szirtes, James Baldwin, Vesna Goldsworthy and Arnold Bennett.
Produced by Caroline Hughes.
A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.
In a Station of the Metro (from Selected Poems) by Ezra Pound
A haiku-like evocation of the citys crowds
He Stands So Thin and Waits (from The Angel of Salonika) by Vesna Goldsworthy
A tentative meeting of two people in bustling railway station
The Journals of Arnold Bennett Vol 1 1896-1910 by Arnold Bennett
Observations on the joys of people-watching in Paris
The Journal of John Wesley 1743 by John Wesley
Wesleys confrontation with a riotous mob in Wednesbury
The Prelude (Book VII) by William Wordsworth
The Romantic poets impressions of cosmopolitan life
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
A vivid account of the Harlem Riot of 1943
Preston North End (from New and Collected Poems) by George Szirtes
A poem about belonging in a crowd, and to a nation. By permission of The Poetry Archive