Anarchy in the UK: Economic Deprivation, Social Disorganization, and Political Grievances in the London Riot of 2011
Published: Jun 2014

Thousands rioted in London in August 2011, with the police losing control of parts of the city
for four days. This event was not an ethnic riot: participants were ethnically diverse and did
not discriminate in choosing targets for looting or destruction. Whereas the sociological
literature has focused on variation in rioting across cities, we examine variation within
London by mapping the residential addresses of 1,620 people subsequently charged with
rioting on to 25,022 neighbourhoods. Rioters tended to come from economically deprived
areas. Rioters were more likely to come from neighbourhoods where ethnic fractionalization
was high, which can be interpreted as evidence for social disorganization. These findings run
counter to the literature’s rejection of deprivation and disorganization as explanations for
rioting. In addition, rioting was motivated by political grievances, as rioters tended to come
from boroughs where police were perceived as disrespectful.

Keywords: Economics


  • Juta Kawalerowicz
  • ,
  • Michael Biggs
  • ,

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