Who controls the city? A micro-historical case study of the spread of rioting across North London in August 2011

Roger Ball, Clifford Stott, John Drury, Fergus Gilmour Neville, Stephen David Reicher, Sanjeedah Choudhury

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14 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

A defining characteristic of major urban riots is their spread from one location to another over time. The English riots of August 2011 displayed this pattern, and a number of cities were affected. This paper analyses the patterns and sequences of collective behaviour in the initiation and development of rioting in the London borough of Enfield, the first area to experience spread beyond the initial rioting in the neighbouring Haringey. Our analysis suggests that rioting in Enfield was a result of protagonists converging to deliberately create conflict as a social identity-based expression of power. Over time, their motivations and the patterns of collective action changed as a function of interactions and emergent affordances in the location. We explore the implications of our data for models of urban rioting. Specifically, we contend that the spread of riots across cities may be driven by a complex interplay between social identity, intergroup dynamics and empowerment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-504
JournalCity
Volume23
Issue number4-5
Early online date12 Nov 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Crowds
  • Contagion
  • Social identity
  • Riots
  • Rational choice

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