In Let The Fire Burn, discuss how the following was presented in terms of its effect on the city and the whole: collective behavior social movement the power of stereotype 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one way in which collective behavior was shown in Let the Fire Burn is the behavior of the firefighters and police officers involved in the MOVE home.  There was a collective and unified response on the part of authorities to "let the fire burn."  After dropping the incendiary device on the house and engulfing it in flames with people inside it, the collective behavior was to follow orders given.  These orders involved letting the fire burn in order to assert power over MOVE members.  Letting the fire burn was an example of collective behavior, of individuals following one another in unified action.  Collective behavior on the part of Philadelphia police and fire authorities was in response to how the people of MOVE were seen.

A case can be made that the power of stereotype influenced the authorities' collective action.  The belief and perception was that the members of MOVE were "terrorists."  Some of this stereotype was fueled by the problems between the group and police as far back as 1978, when conflicts between both groups were demonstrated through violence. The police looked at members of the group through stereotypes that believed the group was antagonistic, terrorists, and a threat to the power structure.  There was little offered from the authorities which showed a clear and open dialogue predicated upon respect.  The people of MOVE believed in "different ideas" and believed in different constructions of the good.  Their approach was different and this difference was masked in the stereotype of the group being "terrorists."  The power of stereotype made it easier for the authorities to allow the fire to burn.  This fire was both literal as well as metaphorical in terms of the attitude towards the group as a result of the power of stereotype.

The MOVE group represented an example of social movement.  Members of the group established themselves as a form of social movement in their belief on issues that they perceived to be reflective of injustice.  Their willingness to protest and do so in a manner that displayed their belief systems represents a social movement.  MOVE's elements of social movement are best seen in their resistance towards authority.  

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