Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Riots create irrational behavior

Date:
April 30, 2013
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
Participants of group riots have, since the end of the 1960s, been viewed as rational individuals driven by a sense of injustice. But in today's world this is misleading, concludes a sociologist. He encourages the police to take the destructive behavior of some participants into account when dealing with groups of rioters.

Participants of group riots have since the end of the 1960s been viewed as rational individuals driven by a sense of injustice. But in today's world this is misleading, concludes sociologist and PhD Christian Borch in a newly published doctoral thesis, and he encourages the police to take the destructive behaviour of some participants into account when dealing with groups of rioters.

During the so-called 'UK Riots' in the summer of 2011, discontented young people set the streets of London alight and looted shopping centres. The initial strategy of the police which was to communicate with rioters soon failed. Instead they resorted to using batons and containment. Within a Danish context, the violent reactions to the clearance of 'Ungdomshuset' in 2007 show that a revolt can develop into serious criminal actions.

According to Christian Borch, these examples illustrate that group rioting are not solely based on righteous indignation and considered planning:

"The notion of the 1960s that social movements happened as a legitimate response to social injustice created the impression of riots as being rational. Crowds however do not have to be rational entities," says Christian Borch.

In a new doctoral thesis "The Politics of Crowds: An Alternative History of Sociology" from University of Copenhagen, Christian Borch analyses the historical development of the concept of crowds in a sociological context.

"The riots in London demonstrate the existence of a lack of rational thought processes as the events had an entirely spontaneous and irrational character. People looted for the sake of looting, for many this was not necessarily born out of a sense of injustice," says Christian Borch who has analysed the strategies of the Metropolitan police in connection with the London riots.

Danish riots attracted violent supporters

The riots surrounding the clerance of "Ungdomshuset" at Jagtvej 69 in Denmark illustrate that demonstrations are capable of creating a self-perpetuating sense of dynamics which accenture the irrational elements. Thus, setting cars alight and breaking windows became part of the rioting.

"During the Danish riots there existed on the one hand a sense of rationality within the young people's protests, in so far as they were drive by a political motivated interest. However, other people who were normally not affiliated with 'Ungdomshuset' became a part of the conflict and participated in the riots without any shared purpose. They were having fun and the adrenalin kicked in," says Christian Borch.

It is inner group dynamics which fuel pointless bahaviour.

"Riots can assume self-perpetuating dynamics which is not driven by rational motives. When individuals form a crowd they can become irrational and driven by emotion which occur as part of the rioting," says Christian Borch.

Inspiration to police tactics

Thinking of crowds as rational entities has since 2000 affected the way in which the British police have handled riots. The UK Riots serve as an example of this. The police worked on the promise that they were dealing with rational individuals with sensible objectives which is why their plan of action was based on communication rather than containment. This however, did not work in practice.

"The interesting aspect of the London riots was to ascertain that it was pointless to address the crowds through a communication strategy. The rational way of regarding the crowds came to nothing whereas the traditional form of containment did. This shows that at certain times a successful solution is not to handle crowds based on dialogue-orientated efforts," says Christian Borch.

In addition to the police, Christian Borch encourages town planners, sociologists and economists to apply a more critical approach when dealing with the concept of crowds.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "Riots create irrational behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130430110113.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2013, April 30). Riots create irrational behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130430110113.htm
University of Copenhagen. "Riots create irrational behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130430110113.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) A new study suggests that mixing alcohol with energy drinks makes you want to keep the party going. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

AP (July 18, 2014) Following the nationwide trend of eased restrictions on marijuana use, pot edibles are growing in popularity. One Boston-area cooking class is teaching people how to eat pot responsibly. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins