Riots occurred only 500 yards away from where I live. Just behind my home crowds of youths ran into a dead end road and burnt a car. Nearby more cars were burnt. Ealing is usually a very quiet leafy green surburban area and I decided to explore as to why riots may have happened here. It seems there are many possibilities open as to why the riots occurred.
In the New York Times in the photograph opposite various reasons for the present riots were put forward. In an article in the BBC
Ten competing arguments on the BBC site are used to explain why the riots occurred. The reasons given have ranged from welfare dependence, social exclusion, lack of fathers, spending cuts, racism, weak policing, gangsta rap and culture, consumerism, opportunitism and technology and social networking. Are there more reasons? I heard of entitlement being a possible reason or even astrology and mercury being retrograde. Maybe more will come to your mind. The point is though, we all choose our reasons and what we choose is also based on our beliefs and perceptions we can take. Looking at things from a statistical perspective, research from the Guardian newspaper has a different perspective and showed that of around 1,000 cases going through the magistrates courts, just 8.6% of defendants have jobs or are students. This then would lead to different opinions and thoughts on the matter.
Many countries have high unemployment but they do not all have riots. A possible one which is looked at psychologically is given some depth by statements from non-psychologists; are the former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Karyn McCluskey who is the head of intelligence analysis. Blair said, ” The truth is that many of these people are from families that are profoundly dysfunctional, operating on completely different terms from the rest of society, either middle class or poor. This is a phenomenon of the late 20th Century. You find it in virtually every developed nation.” Karyn McClusky as head of intelligence and analysis, works at reducing gang crime in Glasgow (Times, Saturday August 20th page16) . Gang behaviour is a factor which is thought to be important in the riots which occurred recently. She says the roots of the riots lie in the “chaotic homes” in areas where gang culture is rife.
Another possibility is something in psychology known as attachment theory and how we relate to those around us as we grow up profoundly affects how we relate to the outside world when we are older. Behaviour such as rioting would be put as being in the disorganised and ambivalent attachment styles. These are the behaviours which a child sees in their environment and then also extrapolates outwards when they are grown-up. People from these backgrounds, rich or poor, show an inability to form long-term and long-lasting relationships. They tend to move from partner to partner. They also may be unable to keep a job going on for long and have a track record of moving around. To stop such behaviour requires great change in the patterns. It is possible to change but the only person who can change and adapt it is the person with the pattern. Usually this happens when they reach rock-bottom or realise the effect it has on others. Many do not and continue with their behaviours and are unaware of the effect they have on those around them.
What is interesting is as to how people from ‘disorganised’ and ‘ambivalent’ attachment styles actually do like boundaries and set routines but seem to display aggression against it. This expression of aggression is usually to test the boundaries of the person in authority. Often they test the authority they have learnt to disrespect (their parents or caretakers originally) and anyone around them. It takes awhile for them to learn to trust and work within any set system. Rebellion seems to be the most attractive option to the ‘disorganised’ or the ‘ambivalent’ yet, the rebellion and anger within leads to broken relationships, difficulties maintaining employment and or some basic levels of self-care. This in itself perpetuates the cycle. Off course in a situation of groups where group dynamics affects individuals, any one of us, if there, could easily have got involved and simply walked through a store. Its abit like being a riot tourist. The unbelievability of watching something live and not on TV may propel us, any one of us, to also walk into the scene of a crime.
In the end I am not sure how the government of the day will approach this but this involves looking at things from many angles. Karyn McClusky, who was discussed above has also worked with social services and other departments to cut down on gang crime in Glasgow, people like her and others with experience regardless of their political leanings need to be brought in.