Riots in France: Political, Proto-political or Anti-political Turmoils?

  • Fabien Jobard


Since the beginning of the 1980s, France has witnessed a series of small-scale urban riots, which have seemed to recur in a very similar fashion. A deadly encounter with the police (or the rumour thereof) in a deprived urban area is followed by the gathering of angry young men on the main square of the local estates (and not in the wealthier city centres), who engage in nightly confrontations with the police. The confrontations are themselves marked by the rare use of deadly weapons, uneven scenes of looting and, as a kind of trademark of the French riots, a large number of burned cars. Riots in the Lyon area in 1981 seemed to introduce the model, and the most recent known event (Amiens, a middle-range city about 100 km north of Paris, in August 2012, and Trappes, a smaller city about 25 km south–west of Paris) followed the same pattern. To this extent, the famous 2005 episode, when around 300 cities were hit by riots following the death of two youngsters trying to avoid an ID check by the police (Moran, 2012), escaped this unalterable ritualisation only by its duration (two to three weeks of turmoil) and its magnitude (mentioning the probably unintentional homicide of Mr Chenadec — an inhabitant of Stains, near Paris — through a fist punch in the head, when he attempted to avoid the burning of some garbage on the street). Riots in France seem to occur and develop along the lines of an imperturbable rituality, with a quite low effectiveness.


Hate Crime Housing Estate Political Protest Political Voice Collective Violence 
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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© Fabien Jobard 2014

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  • Fabien Jobard

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