Accepted Paper:

The riots that never happened: the hidden perceptions of the August 2011 riots in London  

Author:

Povilas Junas

Paper short abstract:

Severe outbreaks of urban violence shaken several English cities in 2011. An extensive and lethal police violence triggered the biggest riots in England since 1981. An ethnographic study provides the detailed picture of distressing cultural and social settings of the August 2011 riots in London.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I analyze the riots which took place in London and several other English cities between August 6th and 10th 2011. The riots started two days after Mark Duggan was shot dead by the Metropolitan Police in Tottenham and the mass media and politicians were quick to condemn the public violence and dismiss any sociological explanation. The liminal ritual of status reversal and the temporal transgression of the taboo, which protects private property moulded in narratives and acts of fighting police, looting and arson. The opposing experience, which was gained throughout four days of riots shaped unalike reflections and interpretations of the event among the individuals and the social groups that consist of different strata in the structure of the politico-legal-economic hierarchy. However, the dominant position of the mass media and mainstream politicians, as the representatives of upper and middle classes enabled them to eliminate the alternative picture created among the citizens of lower classes. This paper looks into rioters' and their supporters' perceptions of the riots and provocative actions of police and mass media.

The paper is based on the ethnographic fieldwork that I conducted in London. Next to the personal accounts of witnesses and participates of the riots, I gathered a significant amount of information throughout visits in different areas of London. Material from the fieldwork in a combination of anthropological and psychoanalytical theories created a basis, on which the paper was built.

Panel P037
The provocateur?