How Does You Chosen Theory Or Theories Explain The London Riots In Augest 2001 Essays

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How does your chosen theory or theories explain the London riots in August 2011?

The London riots were a series of violent protests that took part in a number of areas within London in August 2011. They began in Tottenham and spread throughout London rapidly. The riots were argued to have been triggered by the police shooting of an afro Caribbean man named Mark Duggan, originally organised to be a peaceful protest against institutionalised racism within the police force. However they soon escalated in to violent riots which included the firebombing of property and the looting of high street shops and spread to areas outside of London (Anon, 2011). Although the shooting of Mark Duggan has been commonly viewed as the main cause of the riots, many theorists would argue that this was just an excuse to riot and that it was due to underlying social and environmental factors.
The Chicago school is a leading creator in theories to explain why individuals carry out particular behaviours especially in relation to crime. They argue that any behaviour acted out by an individual cannot be explained in individualist terms but needs to be viewed in the terms of problems within a social environment being the cause for that behaviour (Burke, 2009). Ernest Burgess (1924) developed a theory called the concentric zone theory which argued that modern cities expanded from the inner city core in a series of circles characterised by particular social environment factors. By establishing this theory Burgess aimed to explain why individual’s committed crime based in the area in which they live. He identified five main zones that could be applied to any modern city around the world. The first zone is the core inner city which is the business district in which there is a low population and high property prices. The second zone is viewed as the zone of transition which is characterised by run down housing and high levels of poverty and unemployment. Surrounding these zones are the zone of the working class, the zone of the middle class and then the suburbs which can be viewed as the most sort after area to live in (Mclaughlin and Muncie, 2010). Burgess’s theory has been criticised by positivists for focusing too great an importance on structural determinism as an explanation for crime and failing to recognise the importance of an individual’s decision making to commit crime (Newburn, 2007). Shaw and Mckay went further to argue that within the zone of transition families and other social institutions, such as schools and churches, have been left strained if not destroyed by rapid urban growth, migration and poverty. This leaves younger individuals without the social constraints that were once present causing them to seek out excitement in the streets, often taking the form of crime (Burke, 2009). Shaw and Mckay would argue that the London riots were caused by the lack of social constraints individuals face leaving them continually seeking sources of excitement and the shooting of Mark Duggan formed the excuse to satisfy this. This can be argued to have been aided by the growth and development of communication allowing individuals to organise the riots on a much larger scale than would previously have been possible. Shaw and Mckay would argue that this added to the excitement of the individual making the riots even more appealing. Positivists would argue against this saying that only a small number of individuals have this need to seek excitement suggesting that it cannot be the influence of the environment but is a consequence of an individual’s deposition.
Shaw and Mckay also argued that within the zone of transition there was a breakdown of the sense of community with leads to socially disorganised neighbourhoods in which the value system supports and even encourages delinquent behaviour, thus deviant behaviour can be viewed as a product of social learning (Mclaughlin and Muncie, 2010).This could be viewed as an explanation for why the riots…