The English riots of 2011: Misreading the signs on the road to the society of enemies

Steve Hall, Simon Winlow

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Most of the riots that have occurred in England throughout modernity have been associated with symbolic protests and fuelled by an underlying sense of injustice about specific, objective grievances related to the position of the agrarian or industrial working classes in the socio-economic and political structure. In the period that stretched from the 1880s to the 1930s, however, it is possible to discern a significant shift in form. Perhaps the most important aspect of this shift was the gradual emergence and development of coherent, unifying political discourses among the popular classes (Thompson, 1991). To be specific, the motivation and symbolism that underpinned both protests and riots became increasingly shaped by the related but competing political visions of communism, socialism or Labourite social democracy. These discourses did not incorporate populations en masse, and indeed many individuals remained apolitical or conservative in outlook despite their continued economic exploitation and political marginalisation. However, the influence exerted by these discourses was most certainly on the rise and, between the two world wars, it could be seen at the forefront of most protests and riots.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRiot
Subtitle of host publicationunrest and protest on the global stage
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781137305534
ISBN (Print)9781137305510
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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