Riotous Citizens


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Children and Families. Transforming Politics: power and resistance more. More Info: Paul Bagguley and J. Political Sociology and Social Movements. From Protest to Acquiescence?

Riotous Citizens : Paul Bagguley, Yasmin Hussain - Book2look

Political Movements of the Unemployed more. More Info: From Protest to Acquiescence? Political Movements of the Unemployed, pp. London: Macmillan. Social Movements.

Restructuring: Place, Class and Gender more. More Info: Bagguley, P. Restructuring: Place, Class and Gender, pp. London: Sage. Social Class. Angels in red? Industrial citizenship: a re-conceptualisation and case study of the UK more. Collective Action and Welfare Recipients in Britain more.

Riotous Citizens

Service Employment and Economic Restructuring in Lancaster, more. Organizing the unemployed: politics, ideology and the experience of unemployment more. Publisher: opengrey. Economic restructuring and employment change in Lancaster manufacturing industries more. Labour flexibility and disorganised capitalism: a comparative analysis of five countries more.

It is shown through a comparative analysis of recent developments in industrial relations in Sweden, West Germany, France, Great Britain and the United States that the particular patterns of disorganization will vary depending on Keywords: Foucault; heterotopia; resistance-practices; mediatised societies. An Overview and Comparison of Oldham. Accounts of How the Bradford Riot Began. Bibliografische gegevens. Theorizing Crowds Riots and Public Disorder. The expression of fear through bellowing, breathing, and movements of the body, induces the same feeling in the case of other cattle who, as they in turn express their alarm, intensify this emotional state in one another Blumer, So people in a crowd are no different from a herd of bellowing stampeding cattle!

Yet people are also emotionally excited, alarmed and suggestible, feeling an urge to act. Thus Blumer sees the crowd as moving from simple milling behaviour expressing a common mood to a state of collective excitement around a common object of attention where they are so emotionally excited that they are more willing to break normal social rules.

At this stage social contagion may emerge where the irrational spread of an action may rapidly occur. In this way common patterns of behaviour emerge in crowds. Blumer then goes on to discuss the characteristics of a range of types of crowd. For our purposes his account of the acting crowd is most significant, and he defines this as an aggressive crowd whose actions are oriented to a specific objective.

As a result of this he suggests that individuals lose their self-control, and the whole crowd behaves in a similar manner as they are all stimulated by the same object and their previously repressed impulses drive them all to act in the same way. Through the subsequent process of milling, the mood of the crowd is disseminated amongst all of those present, and they come to define a common object of their aggression. The acting crowd is above all spontaneous, emerging momentarily as a product of the impulses aroused amongst its members. As such it is not a society or a cultural group.

Its action is not preset by accepted conventions, established expectations, or rules. It lacks other important marks of society such as an established social organisation, an established division of labour, a structure of established roles, a recognised leadership, a set of norms, a set of moral regulations, an awareness of its own identity … Blumer, Individuals in such crowds have lost their critical faculties and capacity for selfcontrol, responding immediately to events around them without reflection or moral judgement.

He excludes from this those individuals who may be present, but not take part in the actions of the crowd. Those who do participate are likely to experience a sense of power and invincibility Blumer, It is perceived, classified and considered as a pure social form, as a purely meaningless mass of human bodies and actions. Furthermore, it is discussed from a very particular normative perspective that denies the crowd any meaning, rationality or volition that 18 Riotous Citizens in effect de-humanizes the participants.

It is in no way or form a sociological account of the crowd. The consequence is to wrench the crowd from any social, cultural or political context. Although he wants to emphasize the imitative, instinctual and animalistic character of circular reaction, many of the characteristics of the crowd must of necessity involve interpretation.


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For instance, if people are emotionally excited, they must have interpreted the situation as one that is emotionally disturbing. It must therefore be meaningful to them. For the acting crowd whose aggression is directed towards some specific object or goal, then that object of aggression must have some meaning for those in the crowd.

As McPhail 14 has noted, people in such situations often exhibit an increased awareness of what is happening around them, rather than mere reaction to events. However, the very fact that Blumer is able to determine patterns and classify different types of crowd, and to cite examples that conform to these patterns, suggests otherwise.

Blumer is remarkably vague about the time-spans of the mechanisms and processes of elementary collective behaviour. His analysis is embedded in a broader account of all forms of collective behaviour, from panics and crazes, through hostile outbursts, through to the more organized norm-oriented movements pressure groups and single issue campaigns and value-oriented movements revolutions. The hostile outburst is a type of collective behaviour where a specific institution, group or individual is perceived to be a source of strain, and as a result is attacked or assaulted.

It is therefore broader than legal definitions of riots. This provides him with a logically derived structure for theorizing all types of collective action as follows: structural conduciveness, structural strain, the emergence of generalized beliefs, precipitating factors, the mobilization of actors, and the operation of social control. For Smelser, this is a universal analytical structure for all forms of collective behaviour. Theorizing Crowds, Riots and Public Disorder 19 He suggests that there are three aspects of structural conduciveness for a hostile outburst: who is seen as responsible for strains, the opportunities for expressing grievances, and communication about grievances.

However, structural conduciveness only concerns the general possibilities for action. Whilst a particular social group may be blamed for problems and there may be ineffective policing or lack of conventional means of expressing dissatisfaction, as well as lots of discussion about the grievances among potential rioters, this does not mean that a riot will necessarily occur. He argues that typically there is a combination of strains in play, although attention tends to focus on one particular factor. Often there is a lack of accurate information about the situation.

Generalized beliefs that lead to hostile outbursts often take the form of rumours about the actions of a group towards whom there is already considerable hostility and aggression. Precipitating factors then confirm the generalized beliefs about the vilified individual, group or organization. This might entail new sudden strains, the closure of the means of expression of what are seen as legitimate grievances, the failure of politicians or the police to deal with a situation, rumours or other previous hostile outbursts Smelser, — His discussion of leadership is limited to the psychopathic individuals, accidental leaders and already existing social movement organizations.

The discussion of organization is similarly sketchy, focusing on the degree of pre-existing organization, location and the impact of policing. He recognizes that, once underway, hostile outbursts attract a range of different kinds of people, who may direct their attention to different targets.

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Finally, Smelser examines the role of the social control of hostile outbursts. His principal point here is that if either the authorities or the forces of law and order on the streets fail to control the situation vigorously enough, then the hostile outburst will continue or further events will occur Smelser, — He draws upon established sociological concepts, logically deriving an analytical structure from these through which to understand why hostile outbursts occur.

He attempts to draw upon empirical evidence to support his claims. However, this is rather uneven in his discussion of hostile outbursts, where some of his arguments, for instance, about leadership and organization, apparently lack evidence and seem to be mere supposition. Nevertheless, his work shares many characteristics with that which came before.

At various points he cites Le Bon approvingly as an authoritative source.

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He also tends to view collective behaviour and hostile outbursts in particular as deviant phenomena revealing an underlying conservative bias. Nevertheless, there remain a 20 Riotous Citizens number of well-founded problems with his analysis, both as a whole and in relation to hostile outbursts in particular.

His approach remains wedded to a Parsonian image of society as an integrated social whole. This means that he tends to see those involved in hostile outbursts as simply deviants. It further tends to reproduce the model of the rioting crowd as irrational Waddington, Jones and Critcher, —7; Waddington, He sees hostile beliefs as short-circuiting social problems from complex causes to simplistic and irresponsible solutions Smelser, Some have argued that this formulation is imprecise and further highlights his treatment of collective behaviour as simply a form of deviance Crossley, 47—8.

As several authors have pointed out, many of his claims are either impossible to test or verify or entirely empty of meaning Crossley, ; Rule, ; Scott, The result is often a series of tautologous statements that simply redefine the phenomena, rather than explain them Scott, Many have argued that his analysis of generalized beliefs suggests that these are just links in the causal chain producing collective behaviour.

For us this is significant, for as we shall see the strained relationships between the police and South Asian Muslim communities played both a long-term and a short-term role in how they reacted to each other immediately before, during and after the riots in Furthermore, it has been argued that Smelser presents the police as reacting to collective violence, and that this overlooks the interaction between crowd members and the police in the development of a riot.

Consequently, the types of firm police action advocated by Smelser may actually instigate violence rather than suppress it Waddington, Jones and Critcher, Crossley has further suggested that Smelser conflates the important distinction between factors external to collective behaviour with processes that go on within it.

By treating all factors as part of an overall model, he suggests that Smelser fails to fully recognize that strain, conduciveness, precipitating factors and social control are external to collective behaviour. They are to a large extent beyond the control and influence of the social actors involved. However, mobilization and the formation of generalized beliefs are in some way either what the actors concerned are doing or are in part at least a consequence of their behaviour.

Nevertheless, Crossley 53 , for example, does recognize the importance of Smelser in constructing a kind of agenda of the complex range of sociological factors relevant to the study of collective behaviour. The first of these is that, by highlighting generalized beliefs, Smelser is suggesting that we need to pay close attention to the thoughts of those involved in collective action.

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