Urban Unrest or Riot? Summer 2011 in England and 2001 in Bradford

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Dr Joanne Massey

Dr Joanne Massey

Senior Lecturer in Cultural Criminology in the Department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Joanne Massey is a Senior Lecturer in Cultural Criminology in the Department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University. She worked at Manchester Institute for Popular Culture from 1999- 2005 as a research assistant.

The recent urban unrest over the summer of 2011 has sparked much debate amongst academics and social commentators. There have been questions raised about why these events occurred, what was the aim of them? Were they just mindless attacks or politically motivated acts? The general consensus appears to be that these were essentially non-political events, represented in the media and responded to by government as criminal acts. This paper will look at the urban unrest (or as the Home Office term it ‘Disorder Events’) of August 2011 in comparison to the Bradford Riot of 2001. Arguably there is evidence to indicate that events in Bradford were only labelled as a riot by the media and local people did not experience them in the same way (Massey and Singh 2012). Here we will examine whether the events of Summer 2011 were in fact ‘riots’ or criminal.