The English Riots of 2011: Misreading the Signs on the Road to the Society of Enemies

  • Steve Hall
  • Simon Winlow


Most of the riots that have occurred in England throughout modernity have been associated with symbolic protests and fuelled by an underlying sense of injustice about specific, objective grievances related to the position of the agrarian or industrial working classes in the socio-economic and political structure. In the period that stretched from the 1880s to the 1930s, however, it is possible to discern a significant shift in form. Perhaps the most important aspect of this shift was the gradual emergence and development of coherent, unifying political discourses among the popular classes (Thompson, 1991). To be specific, the motivation and symbolism that underpinned both protests and riots became increasingly shaped by the related but competing political visions of communism, socialism or Labourite social democracy. These discourses did not incorporate populations en masse, and indeed many individuals remained apolitical or conservative in outlook despite their continued economic exploitation and political marginalisation. However, the influence exerted by these discourses was most certainly on the rise and, between the two world wars, it could be seen at the forefront of most protests and riots.


Class Struggle Consumer Culture Political Symbolism Criminal Market Political Marginalisation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Steve Hall and Simon Winlow 2014

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  • Steve Hall
  • Simon Winlow

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