Blog Four: Reading the Riots


The riots of 2011 in England began after a protest in Tottenham following the dead of Mark Doggan, a local who was shot dead by police on 4 August 2011. Shortly after, the police lost all control and rioters were finally able to express the hidden feelings of hatred toward the government and police. Rioters burned and destroyed cars, private property, and businesses. Excessive looting also took place during these riots. Riots were spread through the use of technology like Facebook, Twitter, and cell phones, technology mainly available and easily accessed by our youth. However, the riots were more than the protest of an unfair murder of an unarmed man by the police, the rioters had so much more withheld anger against their government. They were sparked by poverty, injustice and the deep hatred of the police. The problem with the police was their acts of prejudice against these youth groups, they were constantly being stopped for searching with no rightful reason and the constant increase on the cost of education thus making it harder for the working and middle classes to afford. This is where Robert Merton‘s anomie theory of deviance comes in. His primary interest is not so much why a particular individual deviates, but why the rates of deviance differ so dramatically in different societies and for different subgroups within a single society.In Merton’s formulation, anomie becomes the explanation for high rates of deviant behavior in the U.S. compared with other societies, and also an explanation for the distribution of deviant behavior across groups defined by class, race, ethnicity, and the like. In fact, Merton sees as a polar example of a society in which success goals (often defined primarily in monetary terms) are emphasized for everyone in the culture, and people are criticized as being quitters if they scale back their goals. Because education is becoming an unobtainable thing in England, students who were in search for future success were angry that the government was charging triple for University than just a few years back thus making it more difficult than ever before to reach a successful future. The stereotyping of social classes were also getting out of control. Only certain groups were the ones stopped for searching. These groups had decided it was enough and one mistake the police makes triggered the deviant behavior that lasted about four days. Merton would agree that it was the wrong doings of the police and government that lead to the rioting because no one acts in a deviant way without having a reason to. Like these young rioters in Europe, they were fighting and expressing their anger for their government in order to reach success and equality. Some would recall the riots as “the best days of their lives” when they finally expressed how they felt.


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