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Paul Rock

Paul Rock a lecturer in social institutions at the London School of Economics, is co-author of Understanding Deviants.

Rioting

Paul Rock, 17 September 1981

Riots have the appearance of disorganised and confusing events, lacking clear definition and structure. They seem to be a kind of sudden rupture which is only uncertainly related to its immediate environment – life in Brixton or Southall or Toxteth. No longer quite predictable and intelligible in the manner of ordinary, uneventful social affairs, riots invite being described as ‘meaningless’ and ‘senseless’. Familiar recipes for interpreting and controlling phenomena cease to work properly. Indeed, some riots apparently constitute a rude rejection of the commonplace processes by which people try to make sense together.

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