The wisdom of crowds may be an over-used phrase, and the stupidity of the lynch mob springs to mind as testament to the simplistic expression of intention that typically accompanies joint speaking. However we might note that both religious prayer and protest demonstrations frequently make use of a call-and-response scaffolding that allows somewhat more elaborate and articulate expression of collective sentiment. In protest, call-and-response is usually limited to one or two eliciting questions (“What do we want? Free education! When do we want it? Now!”), but in religion, the call and response is typically integrated into liturgical ritual, supported by printed texts, allowing sequences of call and response that extend over many turns, and that include complex expression of finely tuned theological beliefs.

Sports chanting seems to be more concerned with the demonstration of collective identity than with the formulation of explicit statements of belief or intention, and so call-and-response chants are less common.

One of the goals of this small sequence of posts is to provide foundation to the claim that the subjectivity expressed collectively in chanting is every bit as real as the subjectivity of the individual, so lionised by contemporary psychology and the secular belief system most widespread in Western culture. The use of a formal device such as call-and-response in the two leading domains of prayer and protest illustrates how joint speaking can support and give expression to beliefs beyond the inchoate rage of the mob.

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