Let me begin by saying I have no academic qualifications in Sociology but I have been tempted to offer my tuppence worth after reading Daddacool’s considered article on the subject of the London Riots.
As many of you will have seen on Twitter there has been a splurge of questioning and theorising on why this has happened. The Mayor of London too has returned from holiday today asking “why?” and expressing his confusion.
I think the answers may be found by looking at the history of urban riots that have happened across the western world in the last hundred years or so.
Various studies highlight a riot starts with a specific incident. In the case of the London Riots 2011 we have the police shooting of Mark Duggan.
Underneath these specific “moments” social disharmony will exist. Recurring themes for such social disharmony include: Police abuse and/or bias, lack of affordable housing, economic inequality, rapid demographic change, discrimination, high unemployment, and poor schools.
I tentatively suggest to Boris and the Government that an urgent exploration to the background of these riots by considering these core themes may be fruitful in finding the reasons and ultimately the right solutions to the problems we have in London today.
But to these, I would add one more “theme”.
One in five young people (16 to 24) has NO job. That is 1 million young people living without any sense of responsibility and an increasing sense of frustration.
Unemployment is one thing – mass youth unemployment is quite another and we have never had youth unemployment figures like this in the UK!
House these unemployed young people in grim surroundings with nothing to do and little hope that things are going to get better, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out there will be trouble. Given the “herd” mentality that takes over during riots, there are just too many young people with nothing to lose.
Today, listening to the news, I have seen MPs scratching their heads and heard much talk of rubber bullets and water cannon and “bring in the army”, and journalists getting over excited at the use of Twitter and Blackberrys.
As a country we need to find ways to solve youth unemployment. Quickly!
Just my thoughts. As alluded to at the top of this article, I appreciate that finding reasons for such terrible behaviour will be complex and interwoven – but such enormous numbers of unemployed young people can’t be good for them or our country. What say you…