Language of the Unheard: Riots in Popular Culture

  • Diana Bretherick


The UK riots of 2011 have been represented in the news media variously as a cry of pain by the young in the light of the growing injustices produced by the effects of the recession; mere opportunistic criminality, motivated by greed in an increasingly consumerist society; a protest against the police triggered by the shooting of Mark Duggan; and some combination of the three. Despite the possibility that ‘no over-arching explanation will suffice because the facts do not support one’ (Silverman BSC Newsletter No. 69, Winter 2011), politicians have done their best to provide the media with sound bites to provide one. Prime Minister David Cameron famously characterised the riots as an ‘outbreak of mindless criminality’, thus providing a convenient excuse not to call anything resembling a public inquiry, and Ken Clarke, the Secretary of State for Justice at the time, laid the blame at the door of a ‘feral underclass’.


Community Police Shop Owner Witness Testimony Criminal Justice Response Licence Plate Number 
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© Diana Bretherick 2014

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  • Diana Bretherick

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