Sociological reasons for UK Urban Riots 2012 Essay

Submitted By Selvam-Haridas
Words: 561
Pages: 3

Why was a sociological perspective essential for understanding the UK urban riots of 2011?

The UK urban riots of 2011 was a devastating event that occurred in London as well as cities and towns across the UK. It led to looting, arson and the mass deployment of police. Police arrested and charged large numbers of people for their involvement in the riots. Bruce Reed, a defence lawyer for many of the accused, commented that “(The rioters) are from all ages and persuasions” and “A large proportion of the accused are of good character” and most importantly “They don’t know, they can’t tell me why they did it”. We can infer from Bruce Reeds comments that the demographics of the people involved in the riots were unexpected, they came from all walks of life and were mostly good people who couldn’t explain their own actions during a riot. Bruce Reed even differs to Sociology to try and explain the behaviour of the rioters as “(He was) at a loss to understand why this happened.” What could have caused so many people to lose their usual contrition and sense of morality and act in a manner which even bewildered Bruce Reeds.
Various sociologists have put forth theories that can help explain this event. Richard Sennett for example believes that (the riots) “occur in the places where no-hopers live, rather than political riots directed at the centres of power; the result is that the principle victims are their local neighbours.” To substantiate this point we can compare places where the riots were taking place with the relative poverty of that area. Unsurprisingly in places like Liverpool, Manchester, London etc the areas that showed the highest levels of poverty were the ones most active during the riots. He goes on to suggest that welfare dependence was one of the causes of the riots but I disagree.
Zygmunt Bauman on the other hand contends that the riots occurred due to a combination of consumerism with rising inequality. He argues that in our society we have been seduced to the view that consumerism is a highway to a better life. As such the impoverished people that could not afford material goods to make their lives “better” became