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Identifying Common Causes of UK and French Riots Occurring Since the 1980s

NCJ Number
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 48 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2009 Pages: 245-256
David Waddington; Mike King
Date Published
July 2009
12 pages
A comparative analysis was conducted of the rioting that occurred in France in 2005 and disorders which occurred in the United Kingdom (England and Wales) between 1980 and 2001.
Despite many variations in the nature and dynamics of the United Kingdom and French riots occurring between 1980 and 2005, the following common elements were identified: (1) the riots typically occurred at highly-segregated, run-down, and often stigmatized social locations; (2) in each of the cases observed, there was a hardcore of young men whose preferred form of cultural adaptation to adverse circumstance was deemed sufficiently reprehensible to warrant public condemnation and, ultimately, the attention of the police; (3) police intervention followed periods of heightening vilification of the youths by the media, police, politicians, and others; (4) in all cases, the riots were preceded by long spells of deteriorating police-youth relations, resulting from repressive policies; and (5) the riots were ultimately triggered by an especially emotive incident or event which dramatically confirmed and reinforced youth perceptions of police hostility and/of indifference to the safety of the local community. The conclusions reiterate and endorse previous observations that the underlying causes of spontaneous public disorders remain consistent across separate era and from one culture to another. This study explored differences and commonalities between the events in France in 2005 (in deprived outlying suburbs of Paris and other localities) and the urban disorders that occurred in England and Wales from the 1980s to 2001. Notes and references


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