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Reflections on why riots don’t happen

Newburn, Tim (2016) Reflections on why riots don’t happen. Theoretical Criminology, 20 (2). pp. 125-144. ISSN 1362-4806

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1362480615598829


In contrast to much of the literature in the field of public disorder, rather than focusing on the nature and aetiology of riots, in this paper I investigate why riots don’t happen. During times of widespread disorder there are some locations that, whilst apparently sharing many of the features of the places where significant disorder is occurring, do not fall prey to rioting themselves. Why? Against the backdrop of the 2011 England riots – though the arguments developed here have international application - I use two case studies involving semi-structured interviews with key informants in two such locations to reflect on why riots don’t happen. Initially drawing on Waddington’s ‘flashpoints’ model, I argue that it was primarily matters at an interactional level that appear to have been crucial in the absence of riots in these particular cases. In order to facilitate a more detailed analysis at this level in particular, I propose some elaboration of the flashpoints approach, using Reicher’s ‘social identity’ model, as the basis understanding the nature of police-crowd and police-community interaction.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Author
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2015 13:43
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2024 06:33

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