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Mad Mobs and Englishmen? Myths and realities of the 2011 riots

Mad Mobs and Englishmen? Myths and realities of the 2011 riots [Kindle Edition]

Steve Reicher , Cliff Stott
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Myths and realities of the London riots - from leading world experts in crowd behaviour, rioting and hooliganism

In August 2011, London and many other English towns and cities erupted into some of the worst rioting for decades. David Cameron blamed a broken society with a sick morality; Tony Blair a defiant underclass. Yet with no evidence to support their claims, their remarks were typical of the storm of uninformed comments that followed the riots, based largely on longstanding misconceptions of why people riot. With their extensive expertise in crowd behaviour and psychology, and years of research experience studying crowds, riots and hooliganism worldwide, psychologists Steve Reicher and Cliff Stott challenge the myths of the 2011 riots perpetuated in the media and elsewhere; consider the reality on the ground and how to avoid a repeat scenario.

'An excellent and important book. In this fascinating account, Reicher and Stott challenge the widespread dismissal of the riots as "criminality pure and simple." They offer compelling evidence for an alternative view of what really caused the uprisings. All of us, especially our policy makers, need to take note in order to prevent more riots in the future.'
George Akerlof, Nobel Prize-Winner in Economics, 2001 and Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley

'Readable, considered and enlightening... at last, an authoritative examination of the riots by leading experts on the social psychology of crowd behaviour. Anyone who really wants to understand the riots should read this.'
Claudia Hammond, writer and broadcaster

'The aftermath of the summer riots saw a rush to find simple explanations - few of them rooted in evidence. Reicher and Stott's book marks one of the first attempts to look beyond the political rhetoric. Drilling down into two case studies - disturbances in Tottenham and Hackney - they have emerged with some intriguing insights into what the disorder may have been about.'
Paul Lewis, Special Projects Editor for The Guardian

'Insightful and well-argued� one of the most penetrating analyses of "rioting" ever published. A must-read for anyone wishing to understand the issues behind urban conflict.'
Jim Sidanius, Professor of Psychology and African and African American Studies at Harvard University

'This reasoned and intelligent approach is in stark contrast to the moral panics apparent in Westminster and the media in the immediate aftermath of the riots. They have endeavoured to present a carefully researched document that seeks to understand such events and find workable strategies to prevent future occurrences and should be congratulated.'
Superintendent Roger Evans, former Deputy Commander of the Metropolitan Police Territorial Support Group.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 594 KB
  • Print Length: 111 pages
  • Publisher: Robinson (18 Nov 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006654U9U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #68,580 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is by far the best academic account - so far the only academic account - of the riots that took place this summer in London and other English cities. It is the only analysis I have seen which attempts to detail how conflict emerged and escalated during these events. What is clear from this analysis is that the `common sense' views propagated by the mass media and politicians - that the riots were due to people simply getting `carried away' because they were anonymous, `contagion', `criminal' personalities, and poor upbringing - are not simply ideological but hopelessly inadequate as explanations. The book systematically demolishes these and other myths about riots, through a review of the social scientific and historical evidence. It then presents the current social scientific understanding of crowd conflict, developed through over 30 years of research. This suggests that conflict emerges through clashes in competing definitions of legitimacy and develops through crowd empowerment. The detailed account of what happened during the events, based on painstaking analysis of hours of youtube videos and other contemporaneous material, avoids the clichés. It supports the authors' view that these riots - like those at Watts, St Pauls, Brixton and others in the past - are not `mindless' but rather are meaningful assertions of collective identity. I am recommending my students to buy this book, though it is a book written for the (critical) general reader, not for an academic audience. I would recommend this book to anyone seriously interested in understanding this summer's riots, and anyone interested in understanding crowd conflict generally.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
This engaging, entertaining and insightful book provides the first evidence-based analysis of the August 2011 English riots, and will be of interest to both a general and academic audience. Since reports of collective disorder first appeared on our television screens on August 6th, commentators have been virtually unanimous in condemning the riots using classic explanations of crowd behaviour. The riots were caused by an atavistic mindless mass as individuals lost their anonymity within the crowd. The riots were caused by a convergence of Britain's `feral underclass', creating a critical mass of scum that wrought havoc for criminal ends. Right?

Wrong. Steve Reicher and Cliff Stott - two leading academics within the discipline of crowd psychology - present the first systematic analysis of the riots, and argue that the riots were not the result of `mob mentality' or individual pre-dispositions, but were contingent upon issues of social identity and context. Drawing from historical evidence, the authors first outline the origins of mythological crowd psychology explanations. These accounts are then dismantled with reference to more than 30 years of evidence from psychology. This research argues that all collective behaviour - no matter how objectionable - is rooted in social identity, shared understandings and historical context, and must therefore be treated as meaningful.

Next, Reicher and Stott provide a thorough analysis of the riots using news reports, eyewitness accounts, and - most compellingly for an ebook format - online video clips. The book makes a convincing case for explaining the riots within a social identity framework.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, informed and insightful 23 Nov 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
An informed and objective analysis of the 2011 riots is badly needed. Steve Reicher and Cliff Stott are uniquely positioned to offer such an analysis: both are internationally recognised experts in crowd behaviour and public order policing. They present both a detailed chronological account of the riots and a sophisticated, cutting-edge analysis grounded in decades of meticulous research on crowds and rioting. They highlight the complexity of the events and the inadequacy of simplistic explanations, arguing that the crowd behaviour during those four days was far from meaningless, and that we ignore the background of injustice and grievances created by indiscriminate, insensitive policing at our peril. The book is written in an engaging and accessible style and will be indispensible to anybody wishing to understand the 2011 riots, or indeed riots in general.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent report; a stupid format 9 Dec 2011
By Pete
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was led to this book through a sample in an article in the Guardian, and something about it stuck a chord with me. Having decided to purchase it, I then hit the brick wall that it was only available as a Kindle version. Since I don't have a Kindle, this is a problem. It turns out that Amazon have a Kindle Reader software package for computers, but since I don't plan on taking my desktop on the train, this is somewhat useless. Still, I bought the book anyway in the hope that the Kindle Reader software would print it. It won't. However, after much considerable inconvenience and a lot of wasted time using screen grabs, I eventually managed to get the contents on sheets of A4. Highly annoying, and I would consider marking the book down if it weren't for the fact that I think its content is so important.

I am fortunate to be writing this review after the subsequent publishing by the Guardian and LSE of their "Reading the Riots" series, and there is considerable overlap of conclusion with this book. As has been said by another reviewer, that will not please certain parties, namely those who are keen to simplify those who participated as "bad people". The conclusions of this book are similar to those of Philip Zimbardo in the Stanford Prison Experiment, that if you take people and put them in a situation they will take on the attributes of that situation. That is not quite the same as excusing participants as simply getting carried away with the crowd, but does emphasise that context is absolutely key. And that context is resoundingly anti-police.

There is a strongly critical stance towards the police, not just their actions at the riots themselves, but their historical behaviour in those communities in which the riots occurred.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book I purchased this as part of extra reading for my Open University Social psychology course and to get another perspective on the riots of... Read more
Published 6 months ago by PAULA ADAMA
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommending Mad Mobs and Englishmen
This was an ideal opportunity to read one of the 'further texts' recommended for my Open University DD307 Social Psychology essay on crowd behaviour. Read more
Published 6 months ago by K.E.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book and great addition to my studies.
This book is well written and gives a great incite into the minds of people involved in the riots. It is not all it is perceived to be and people get into a habit of categorising... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Sandra Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars could not put this book down!
Thought provoking and gave real accounts from rioters. Interesting and will certainly look out for more reading by authors. Clear, concise and easy to understand. 5 stars!
Published 10 months ago by Megan
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
An excellent work, providing a crowd psychologists take on the London Riots. Suitable for a general audience, it is well written, clear and well researched.
Published 12 months ago by Sarah McLean
5.0 out of 5 stars Mad mobs rule
An extremely interesting read from the beginning. Explanation of how riots start to the power of the crowd over the police. Who is targeted in a riot and why. Excellent.
Published 21 months ago by Danny Kett:
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
I thought this book was fascinating. I agreed with so much that the authors wrote and they have dug up so many interesting facts. Read more
Published 24 months ago by ray
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting read
I bought this ebook for a slightly more academic look at the London riots of 2011 and I wasn't disappointed. The text is interesting, well researched and well presented.
Published on 18 Jun 2012 by Craig
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent wake up call
I strongly recommend this timely and fascinating analysis of the complexity of the 2011 Riots especially for those in a position to influence policing, equalities and perceptions... Read more
Published on 27 May 2012 by Mr. Graham Bartlett
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not entirely convincing
This book is not exactly light reading, but it is interesting and well-argued, which is not surprising in the light of the authors' impressive credentials. Read more
Published on 19 May 2012 by W. Tegner
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