Most social science concepts are contested—but some more so. This is the case for riot, that (as terrorism or Nimby), derives from everyday language, and is used in a stigmatizing way to single out irrational and deviant behavior. While people freely admit that they demonstrate, even in unconventional and sometime “disobedient”, forms, they usually deny that they are rioting, using different terms for defining what they are doing. Additionally, in the social sciences as well as in the political debate, the riot as a form of violence received only sporadic attention. As for other forms of violence, the interpretations about riots and rioting vary dramatically, being influenced by both the specific characteristics of the analysed riots as well as the scientific or political background positions of the analysts. Focusing on the debate in the social science and historical research, and using as illustrations the analysis of the most recent “riots” in France in December 2005 and in Greece in 2008, this presentation addresses: a) The causes for riots: the riots’ narratives; b) The riots within: riots dynamics.
This paper looks at the role of radical repertoires of collective action in settings that are not usually regarded as the primary location for political contention. Data originate from studies that the author has conducted on both individual activists and organizational fields. In the first case, the paper explores attitudes toward physical violence against political opponents among Italian anti-war demonstrators on February 15, 2003. Do people condoning such acts meet a particular profile? The second part of the paper looks at the role of radical repertoires in shaping (either facilitating or, most likely, discouraging) inter-organizational collaborations within civil society in two British cities. The presumed distinctiveness of radical repertoire vis-à-vis other forms of collective action is then re-assessed.
The paper, first, aims at describing the evolution and changing patters of political violence in Germany. This predominantly quantitative empirical overview will be mainly based on a large data set on protest events (derived from newspaper). It refers to West Germany from 1950 to 1989 and to the united Germany from 1990 to 2002. As a complement, also data from official reports on "extremism" will be used. The protest event analysis shows that, contrary to widespread assumptions, the proportion of violent collective protest out of all protest increased over time. Since the 1990s, this increase is mainly a result of right-extremist activities which are impressive in numbers of events but much less so in numbers of participants. Second, the paper develops several hypotheses about the underlying reasons for the increase in the aggregate and some of the changing patterns of political violence. These hypotheses draw on theories/concepts of relative deprivation, political opportunities, discursive opportunities and interaction effects. It is argued that three factors are crucial in causing different levels of political violence: (a) the presence or absence of "mediating structures" at the macro level between challenger groups and the established forces, (b) (a) the presence or absence of "mediating structures" between the moderate and the radical branches of each the political right and the political left, and (c) the strategies and tactics of policing of protest.
It is now almost 21 years since the publication of the first author's Flashpoints: Studies in Public Disorder, (Routledge, 1989), which he co-wrote with Karen Jones and Chas Critcher. In this book, and in numerous subsequent publications, Waddington and his colleagues (including the second author) have outlined and refined the so-called Flashpoints Model of Public Disorder, whose six levels of analysis have been the basis of descriptions and analyses of case studies of disorderly (and orderly) crowd events in Britain and North America. Other scholars have also applied the model to instances of disorder occurring in Europe, Asia, Australasia, and North and South America. The model has had its critics and detractors. The most recent of these are Paul Bagguley and Yasmin Hussain, who level several criticisms of the model in their book on the 2001 UK Bradford riot, Riotous Citizens: Ethnic Conflict in Multicultural Britain. This paper attempts to turn the table on these authors by applying the Flashpoints Model in explanation of the Bradford riot and thereby showing its continuing relevance to our understanding of public disorder.