The Ritual of Insurrection and the ‘Thrill-Seeking Youth’. An Instant Ethnography of Inner-City Riots in Germany
Around the early 2000s, the periodic riots in Hamburg’s inner-city neighbourhood of Sternschanze changed profoundly. For decades, these riots constituted struggles between state authorities and militant anarchists of the autonome Szene (autonomous scene), entwined around resistance to consumer capitalism, control and police repression, and contestations over the production and use of urban space. However, the rapid gentrification of Sternschanze — which has turned from a lower-class area into a popular nightlife district and expensive neighbourhood for the bohemian middle class in recent years (Naegler, 2012) — also changed the character and public perception of the riots. Over the years, the agitated evocations of supposed terrorist threats caused by militant ‘black bloc’ anarchists that used to interfuse the public discourse on riots were replaced by moral outrage about adolescent, apolitical rioters vandalising the gentrified, hip and trendy neighbourhood. This notion became so popular in public discourse that a new term came into being to describe these young people: they are the so-called erlebnisorientierte Jugendliche (thrill-seeking youth). The term is exclusively meant for those teenagers who participate in riots not out of any political motivation but for the sake of the adrenaline rush, excitement and pleasure found in violence and vandalism.
KeywordsMoral Outrage Danger Zone Consumer Culture Cultural Criminology Political Persuasion
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