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Understanding the English ‘riots’ of 2011: ‘mindless criminality’ or youth ‘Mekin Histri’ in austerity Britain?

Cooper, Charlie


Charlie Cooper


The mainstream view permeating media and political discourses following the 2011 ‘riots'in England is that the disturbances are evidence of a moral decline and mindless criminality,implying that the nation's more settled traditions have been corroded. As a consequence, the policyresponse emerging in the aftermath of the troubles prioritises punitive welfare and criminal justicesanctions aimed at restoring ‘decent' traditional values and ways of behaving. This article arguesthat these mainstream responses are not only based on a flawed understanding of England's pasttraditions but that they also fail to acknowledge the deteriorating socio-cultural context of life inpost-industrial, austerity Britain, particularly as it affects young people marginalised by ‘race'and class. Thus the policies currently pursued are unlikely to address the deep-rooted underlyingstructural causes of the widespread discontent and outrage expressed, however inchoately, duringthe disorder.


Cooper, C. (2012). Understanding the English ‘riots’ of 2011: ‘mindless criminality’ or youth ‘Mekin Histri’ in austerity Britain?. Youth and Policy, 109(September), 6-26

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2012
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal Youth & Policy
Print ISSN 0262-9798
Publisher Youth and Policy
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 109
Issue September
Pages 6-26
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Unclear on archiving policy despite checking Sherpa and journal website