Things being as they are, I think it's time to re-read some Eric Hoffer.
Hmmm. Looks like The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements might be a good one right now.
I guess I'll follow that with another reading of that old standard, Charles Mckay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.
Need to find that quote:
"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."
Don't know what put these books in my mind ...
UPDATE: Back to my sociology roots, here's pretty good video from the Khan Academy and Jefffrey Walsh on Aspects of Collective Behavior