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Depraved or deprived: What lies behind these riots, and why aren't they happening in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

(603 Posts)
Solopower Wed 10-Aug-11 09:22:11

I've been reading the threads on the riots and I wondered if we needed one on the causes.

People's ideas seem to range from thinking the rioters are just opportunistic criminals to socially and culturally disadvantaged youngsters.

But why isn't there any rioting in Scotland, for example, where there are pockets of extreme social deprivation?

Zoe Williams' article on the psychology of looting is worth reading, imo:

elliott Wed 10-Aug-11 09:30:06

I don't have any answers about why, but I have noticed that the media persist in describing them as 'Uk' or 'british' when thru are clearly English. If riots were happening in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness don't you think they'd be described as 'scottish'?

elliott Wed 10-Aug-11 09:31:27

When 'they' - sorry!

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 10-Aug-11 09:49:03

Causes plural is right. Don't think there's ever just one motive for criminal behaviour. Seems to be ranging from a misplaced sense of entitlement and injustice to wanting to have a pop at the police to mere thrill-seeking and personal gain. People in crowds are capable of doing things that people on their own wouldn't do. The anonymity of a mob reduces inhibitions, especially if you think there's a limited chance of being caught. When the first batch of looters prosecuted included a graphic designer, some college students, a graduate and an army recruit it's hard to make the social exclusion defence stick. Why not Scotland? Maybe because they've got more sense?

Solopower Wed 10-Aug-11 09:51:43

If you have time, read the article, but if not, here are some quotes:

Claire Fox: 'the riots seemed nihilistic, they didn't seem to be politically motivated, nor did they have any sense of community or social solidarity'.

'... these are shopping riots, characterised by their consumer choices ...

... just because there is no political agenda on the part of the rioters doesn't mean the answer isn't rooted in politics.

Theresa May ... this is "pure criminality", untainted by higher purpose; ... "As soon as things have calmed down, these criminals are going to prison, where criminals belong."

... this is a generation with a false sense of entitlement, created by the victim culture fostered, and overall leniency displayed, by the criminal justice system. It's just a glorified mugging ...

Camila Batmanghelidjh ... this is a natural human response to the brutality of poverty: ... it's a repeated humiliation, being continuously dispossessed in a society rich with possession.

... this is what happens when people don't have anything, when they have their noses constantly rubbed in stuff they can't afford, and they have no reason ever to believe that they will be able to afford it.

Hiller: "Consumer society relies on your ability to participate in it. ... They (the looters) seem to be targeting the stores selling goods they would normally consume. So perhaps they're rebelling against the system that denies its bounty to them because they can't afford it."

Forensic psychologist Kay Nooney: "These people aren't interested in tuition fees. ... There is no higher purpose, you just have a high volume of people with a history of impulsive behaviour, having a giant adventure."

Professor John Pitts (criminologist): "There is a social question to be asked about young people with nothing to lose."

impunity ... the people rioting aren't taking seriously the idea it could rebound on them. ... people just don't believe they'll go to prison any more...'

AitchTwoOh Wed 10-Aug-11 10:05:39

kind of an interesting piece but mostly the usual Williams ringaround... she really is a marvel, i wish i had her job. it does ignore the organisation that seems to have been in place.

wonder how many people from Jamie's Dream School were there? they absolutely displayed that sort of impulsive, impossible-to-calm behaviour.

Solopower Wed 10-Aug-11 10:07:25

I think the 'Why not Scotland?' question is key to understanding it all. I don't really think the ordinary looter on the street was making a political protest, but there must have been some underlying anger on a subconscious level, perhaps.

Could it anything to do with the fact that the people in Scotland just aren't so angry with the government? The SNP got such a huge majority in the elections that the people really do feel represented by their politicians, and that they can trust them to deliver on their manifesto pledges. Also, they are aware that so far they have had a better deal north of the border over things like care for the elderly, tuition fees, etc. (But it's early days still, and they shouldn't feel smug, imo!)

I think for a protest against the police to turn into an attack on local businesses in their own communities, there has to be some element of wanting to get their own back - a protest against never being able to afford the goods in the shops - as the article said.

But I wonder if the seeds for this weren't actually sown in the 80s with Thatcher's idea of there being 'no such thing as society' and that people should just grab what they can and run with it (metaphorically!).

AgentProvocateur Wed 10-Aug-11 10:08:51


AgentProvocateur Wed 10-Aug-11 10:09:49

Sorry - was going to post. Running out of charge. Will get on pc in a while and do it

TryLikingClarity Wed 10-Aug-11 10:10:59

Not happening in NI? Sorry, I dearly hope that you aren't saying that we in NI don't have our own riots.... I'm sad to say that my opinion as an NI native is that the public image many people overseas have of us = mad rioters and sectarian bigots. >>rant over<<

But you're right in saying these particular riots seem England-central.

I think they aren't happening elsewhere in UK besides England because it merely hasn't reached the same level of disillusionment, but I do think large numbers across the UK feel let down by Gov, which may be a factor of the riots....

However, I do think that a big part of it is thugs just wanting an excuse to go mad and wreck the place. I've also seen that in regards to NI sectarian riots sad

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 10-Aug-11 10:12:03

Truth is, it's all those things. Remember the days of football hooliganism? There were some hard-core thugs in the middle, others with nothing to lose or misguided loyalties wanting to be part of something big, others more opportunist looking for quick thrills or settling scores, and yet more in the background coolly organising where the next battle was going to be. It's exactly the same kind of thing.

sieglinde Wed 10-Aug-11 10:12:47

Oh, ffs. I don't think any of these Guardian people have ever been poor, so they look on it with tears in their big sad eyes. I've been poor. (Was on benefits for a year..)

The fact is that we've built a world we can't sustain. If it now takes a JB Sports credit card and a flat-screen telly to buy off the underclass, we CAN'T AFFORD IT. ergo there is really nothing for it but active suppression. Bear in mind too that one person in 25 is a sociopath, and that one person in 2 will obey orders given by a leader.

Solopower Wed 10-Aug-11 10:19:49

So would this not have happened if the government had issued every household in England with a flatscreen TV? In other words, just give them the consumer goods they want and they'll be happy? (Genuine question)

Is it conspicuous consumption, millionaires in the media etc that's causing all this? Is it envy and greed - at all levels of society?

TryLikingClarity Wed 10-Aug-11 10:22:57

Envy and greed, yes that's part of it.

We are humans, our instinct is to want more more more.

We teach children how to act good, not bad, yet we all still know deep down how to be bad.

Some of these rioter are thugs, other people are easily led, and others just want what they can get.

Solo - it's not a matter of giving every household in Eng a flatscreen, it's more an issue of people in these households being driven to distraction with fear and rage that material goods and social mobility appears out of their reach.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 10-Aug-11 10:28:14

@Solopower I think you're quite wrong on the political motivation. If anything, there was a strong anti-police motivation, largely I suspect because the police are seen as interfering in the way they like to live i.e. just the wrong side of the law. And as for not being able to afford things in the shops, I don't think that holds water either. In a lot of places, hooky gear is the norm. Knock-off DVDs, stolen goods, counterfeit brands, cash in hand, no questions asked - all normal. Where do you think the looted stuff will end up?

BodyofChristLegsofTinaTurner Wed 10-Aug-11 10:28:49

I'm Irish, and have been wondering why something similar hasn't happened here. We had a protest about university fees which got a little out of hand in February, and the pensioners had a protest because the government were trying to take away their medical cards. Nothing serious, as there was in Greece or England. We are in a far worse economic situation than England and have been for quite some time. Celtic 'cubs' seem to have, generally, the same sense of entitlement and reliance on consumer society. We are being taxed to the hilt. The Universal Social Charge means that people earning minimum wage are paying for the mistakes and greed of bankers and property speculators. Yet, despite the anger displayed in the media, we are almost complacent about the state of our country. I dare say that the reason there have been no protests in N.I. is that they have had enough of needless violence. Irish people seem to accept that this was inevitable without recourse to violence. Therefore, logically one would assume that the reasons behind the riots are cultural and societal. The riots bear similarities to those that occurred in the banlieus a few years ago. Those were the result of disenfranchised youth, whom society had ignored and continually shat upon. From this perspective, the riots were almost inevitable.

NormanTebbit Wed 10-Aug-11 10:31:23

I don't think there is much of a history of rioting in Scotland - it is a different culture in many ways, in fact social life varies alot within Scotland too,

Urban populations - well there is regular group unrest during old firm games, orange walks, on housing schemes although not on scale we have seen in England.

I guess the SNP government has something to do with it, preserving access to higher education, free presepcriptions etc.

There are alot of drink and drugs. People take heroin or whatever and drink themseklves to death as part of a lifestyle. It's a pretty effective means of social control.

AitchTwoOh Wed 10-Aug-11 10:33:28

actually we have a very proud history of rioting in scotland, but historically it has been for something other than the right to own flat screen tellies.

NormanTebbit Wed 10-Aug-11 10:34:43

It's inequality and a group showing its power.

Rightly or Wrongly, these people have grown up with a set of values and they are now going to defend them.

Afterall MPs fiddle expenses and bankers still taking bonuses and these people want some status wealth and power too - but have no means to achieve it because they don't know anyone who has, unless by celebrity or crime.

Social mobility eroded massively uner Labour and it sure as hell ain't gonna get better in this admininstration.

NormanTebbit Wed 10-Aug-11 10:36:38

Wow Aitch I didn't know about that. But it brings up something else - that Glasgow and other areas still have a sense of community and some shreds of a prous working class decency. It struck me when I moved up there, that people have some pride and decency whatever their situation, even amoung the other mad stuff.

AitchTwoOh Wed 10-Aug-11 10:36:56

well the crime thing is a bit interesting, actually, because it almost never bestows social mobility. there's a really good essay about it... something like 'why do crack dealers all live with their moms?' will see if i can find.

LucreziaDomina Wed 10-Aug-11 10:36:56

It's too bloody cold and wet to riot in Scotland!

AitchTwoOh Wed 10-Aug-11 10:38:49

hope so, norm. like that wee ned telling his scary friends to 'stop fucking swearing at the wumman and her weans'. most of the neds i meet up here are pretty golden underneath... but then i'm not exactly living in the worst area.

AitchTwoOh Wed 10-Aug-11 10:40:02

it is this morning, lucrezia, but actually it's been very warm these last few days, which was a bit worrying as rioting is, as you might have noticed, predominantly a warm weather activity.

Whyriskit Wed 10-Aug-11 10:40:27

Is there more drug abuse in Scotland Norman? We're not rioting because we're all self medicating with alcohol?

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