Characteristics of Crazes

Crazes like fads Opens in new window are a form of collective behavior. Unlike fads, crazes tend to represent more intense involvement for participants. Participants are “more or less encompassingly involved for periods of time” (Lofland 1985: 640).

The craze takes up more of the participant’s life. Crazes tend to involve fewer people than fads because they require more of a commitment. They can take place in any arena of life, but most often appear in the religious, political, economic, and expressive or aesthetic realms (Smelser 1963).

People involved in crazes tend to be highly focused on the craze behavior. They may seem fanatical, devoted to the craze above all else. Whether it is rollerblading, a new dance craze, or a financial craze, crazes consume participant’s attention.

Participants may endure considerable inconvenience to pursue the craze, such as waiting in long lines, traveling long distances, or absorbing large expenses. A mountain biker may spend $1500 on a bike and then augment it with a constant stream of expensive add-ons.

The most desirable bikes are built of a space-age alloy, just beyond the purchaser’s price range, known in biker parlance as “unobtainium.” To people not addicted, the craze behavior may seem bizarre, senseless, or immoral. Crazes usually peak and then decline, although some people may become lifelong devotees of the craze behavior (Turner & Killian 1988).