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Shopping for free? Looting, consumerism and the 2011 riots

Newburn, Tim, Cooper, Kerris, Deacon, Rachel and Diski, Beka (2015) Shopping for free? Looting, consumerism and the 2011 riots. British Journal of Criminology, 55 (5). 987 - 1004. ISSN 0007-0955

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Identification Number: 10.1093/bjc/azv007


A number of commentators have suggested that the riots in England in August 2011 were distinctive because of the character and extent of the looting that took place. In doing so they have argued that the nature of modern consumer capitalism should be placed front and centre of any explanation of the disorder. Whilst concurring with elements of such arguments, we depart from such analyses in three ways. First, we argue that it is important not to overstate the extent to which the 2011 riots were a departure from previous outbreaks of civil disorder - violent consumerism having a quite lengthy history. Second, using testimony from those involved, we argue that a focus on looting risks ignoring both the political character and the violence involved in the riots. Finally, and relatedly, we suggest that the focus on consumption potentially simplifies the nature of the looting itself by underestimating its political and expressive characteristics.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Authors
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2015 15:57
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 15:11

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