How members of the public account for the England Riots of summer 2011

Simon Goodman, Shelley A. Price, C. Venables

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    The purpose of this study is to gain knowledge of how the general public viewed the England riots of 2011 in order to gain a fuller understanding of the riots and their impact on society. The study involved the thematic analysis of four semi-structured focus groups that were conducted with a total of eighteen participants from differing backgrounds. The analysis identified five themes: how participants draw on traditional theories of the crowd; the Police were deemed to be ‘damned if they do and damned if they don’t’; opportunism was used to account for looting; the media were viewed as aiding the spread of the riots but also as informative and as aiding the cleanup after the riots ended; and the riots were presented as being understandable, but in no way acceptable. This demonstrates how public understanding of the riots differs from the psychological literature. Practical recommendations are suggested including the need to give a platform to crowd psychologists.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)34-49
    JournalApplied Psychological Research Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


    • riots
    • England riots
    • public understanding
    • elaborated social identity model (ESIM)
    • thematic analysis


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