Riots and Unemployment: A Possible Relationship?
Put very simply, is unemployment a possible cause of rioting, especially amongst the young?
As more of those arrested appear in front of a court, and reveal their occupation or lack of one, the number of rioters who are unemployed and their age may be revealed. Amongst the very first to be revealed is a 31 year old primary school teacher from Brixton. This goes against the idea that unemployment is the only explanation.
On the other hand there is much journalistic evidence that rioters are young, and from estates of high unemployment. So there are many types of rioter. But if you are young, and with little or no experience of employment; you will have little experience of both the discipline and rewards of employment. So you have to create your own discipline, and your own rewards. The organisation of the riot using technology shows more than organisation. It shows a coherent group acting together, that comes close to discipline. The rewards come from firstly excitement, and also the theft from shops.
As more details of court appearance are made public it will be very interesting to assess the percentage who are unemployed. This figure may be hard, or impossible, to get in the public domain. But would show the relative importance of unemployment.
None of this is to suggest that full employment will stop rioting. Indeed those in employment, and in very boring jobs, may well be attracted by the “buzz” of a riot. But it does suggest that employment, especially in jobs that produce goods and services of use to others, is a civilising process. You can see that what you do is of use to others. You have a connection to the wider society that rioters may lack.
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