In this article we attempt to develop an analysis of the English urban riots of 2011. Rather than build on the assumption of organic resistance and protopolitics, we argue that the disturbances were a brief eruption of social unrest that lacked the clear, unifying political symbolism necessary to turn objectless dissatisfaction into articulate political demands. Rather, the consumer-oriented subjects who inhabit the socioeconomic margins of late capitalism were unable to make this political move and ultimately found themselves with nowhere to take their dissatisfaction but to the shops. This speaks loudly of the current condition of subjectivity in a postpolitical era dominated by neoliberalism and liberal postmodernism.
A Predictably Obedient Riot: Postpolitics, Consumer Culture, and the English Riots of 2011
Simon Winlow is professor of criminology at Teesside University. He is the author of Badfellas (2001) and coauthor (with Dick Hobbs, Philip Hadfield, and Stuart Lister) of Bouncers (2003). With Steve Hall, he is coauthor of Violent Night: Urban Leisure and Contemporary Culture (2006) and (with Craig Ancrum) of Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture (2008).
Steve Hall is professor of criminology at Teesside University. With Simon Winlow, he is coauthor of Violent Night: Urban Leisure and Contemporary Culture (2006) and (with Craig Ancrum) of Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture (2008). He is also the author of the recently released Theorizing Crime and Deviance: A New Perspective (2012).