Shopocalypse now: Consumer Culture and the English Riots of 2011

James Treadwell*, Daniel Briggs, Simon Winlow, Steve Hall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


This article is an initial analysis and theorization of original ethnographic data gathered from young men who participated in the English riots of August 2011. The data consistently suggest that consumer culture supplied these young men with a compelling motivation to join the rioting after the initial localized response to the original incident had died down. The data are analysed in a way that builds a theory of the rioting as a product of objectless dissatisfaction. Drawing upon the resources of contemporary cultural and critical criminological theory, it argues that, in the current post-political vacuum, the rioters could not locate or articulate the objective structural and processual causes of their marginalization. Neither could they clearly recognize or ethically censure their structural antagonists. Thus, in the entire absence of truthful, comprehensible and unifying political symbolism, they had nowhere to go but the shops.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
Issue number1
Early online date8 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


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