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.

Related Articles


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 March 6, 2015 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 March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 3, 2015) Super Bowl champions Sidney Rice and Steve Weatherford donate their brains, post-mortem, to scientific research into repetitive brain trauma. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Newsy (Mar. 3, 2015) Researchers found an abnormal protein associated with Alzheimer&apos;s disease in the brains of 20-year-olds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Researchers gave lidocaine to 112 patients, and about 88 percent of the subjects said they needed less migraine-relief medicine the next day. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) Margaret Duffy of the University of Missouri talks about her study on the social network and the envy and depression that Facebook use can cause. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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