ArticlePDF Available

Patterns of Vandalism During Civil Disorders as an Indicator of Selection of Targets

Article

Patterns of Vandalism During Civil Disorders as an Indicator of Selection of Targets

Abstract

Using data from two independent surveys, this paper examines those ghetto retail merchants who are likely to have their business establishments attacked during civil disorders. The findings, unusual in their complementarity, suggest that riot participants select many of their targets and that the pattern of selection reflects a variety of concerns, from personal gain to "pre-political" motivations. Interpretations of these findings undercut theories of collective violence that rest on such concepts as suggestability, contagion, and "animal spirits."
... The definition of vandals by Ward (1973) suggests that vandalism is normally senseless and meaningful. Other scholars views vandalism as meaningful (Berk and Aldrich, 1972;Fisher, 1982;Mola-Velasco, 2011). The equity theory of vandalism also comes in as a motive for vandalism as less fortunate members of the community will seek to redress the inequalities (Fisher, 1982). ...
... This approach relies largely on huge capital outlays that restricts it to developed countries at large (Apga et al, 2005). Various approaches to dealing with vandalism entails educating people, engaging people into more productive energy, providing jobs among other ways that reduce anger and idleness (Berk and Aldrich, 1972;Fisher, 1982;Mola-Velasco, 2011). ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper proffers a diagnostic analysis of Hosiah Chipanga ‘Kwachu Kwachu’ Satire in which there is emphasis for good stewardship of the common pool municipal infrastructure and utilities. Chipanga’s song is a sentimental reflection on the tragedy of the commons existing in municipal and related facets and domains. Using the reflexivity approach and thematic content analysis that draw from case method and narratives from the media and observations, the present paper offers new insights of how co-management of municipal resources by both users and the responsibilities. Key to the debate is of the rising challenge of property vandalism in both urban and rural areas. The satire by Chipanga is rich in both rebuke and evocation into systems thinking and action by the public. The paper recommends for sustainable municipal stewardship and co-management framework.
... Thus Berk (1974) drew upon game theory to suggest that targets in riots reflected 12 each rioter's judgement of costs and benefits. Thus Berk and Aldrich's (1972) analysis of riots in 15 US cities found that patterns of looting and damage were selective, not random and indiscriminate (personal gain and anti-White establishment) which they suggested reflected conscious interests. And Myers (2000), in his event history analysis of the spread of rioting, is careful to argue that "contagion" is certainly not Le Bon's mindless and indiscriminate social influence, but rather is "a rational form of inter-actor influence in which potential actors observe and evaluate the outcomes of others' behaviours and then make a decision for themselves about whether or not to adopt the behaviour" (Myers and Przybysz, 2010, p. 64). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
This commentary and evaluation chapter first provides some context for Le Bon’s “Psychologie des Foules”. It overviews the book, and shows how others in the classical tradition responded to its claims. Next, the chapter reviews the research and theory that has attempted to transcend the classical tradition, and which has served to provide the most damning evidence against Le Bon’s arguments. These reactions against Le Bon are described first in relation to sociology and then in psychology, reflecting Le Bon’s dual legacy. Contemporary accounts of crowd psychology do not simply stand as alternatives to Le Bon’s account, however; they also help explain why a model whose popularity is based on its supposed practical usefulness actually creates the danger it purports to solve.
... Previous social psychological research has explained collective looting and attacks on property during riots as the acting out of pre-given desires or identities (Berk & Aldrich, 1972;Reicher, 1984) or has simply noted the emergence of these behaviours in the 'natural-history' of a riot without adequately explaining them (e.g. Reicher & Stott, 2011;Stott & Drury, 2000). ...
Article
The question of how normative form changes during a riot, and thus how collective behaviour spreads to different targets and locations, has been neglected in previous research, despite its theoretical and practical importance. We begin to address this limitation through a detailed analysis of the rioting in the London borough of Haringey in 2011. A triangulated analysis of multiple sources of data (including police reports, media accounts, and videos) finds a pattern of behaviour shifting from collective attacks on police targets to looting. A thematic analysis of 41 interview accounts with participants gathered shortly after the events suggests that a shared anti-police identity allowed local postcode rivalries to be overcome, forming the basis of empowered action not only against the police but to address more long-standing grievances and desires. It is argued that collective psychological empowerment operated in a “positive feedback loop”, whereby one form of collective self-objectification (and perceived inability of police to respond) formed the basis of further action. This analysis of the development of new targets in an empowered crowd both confirms and extends the elaborated social identity model as an explanation for conflictual intergroup dynamics.
... As mentioned above, analysis of surveys of only participants in efforts to learn the causes of participation produces sample-selection bias. At least five studies avoided this problem by using data on samples of individuals who did and did not participate in riots (Paige 1971, Morgan & Clark 1973, Ladner et al 1981, anti-busing protests (Useem 1980), and vandalism during riots (Berk & Aldrich 1972). ...
Article
Full-text available
Recent research on collective action has focused on the occurrence, timing, and sequencing of such events as regime changes, riots, revolutions, protests, and the founding of social movement organizations. Event analysis allows information on the duration, number of participants, presence of violence, or outcome of some particular type of collective action to be compared across social systems or across time periods. This review considers issues of definition, measurement, and methods of estimation in event analysis. It also compares two general varieties of event analysis: approaches that model the dynamics of collective action as a process, and those that do not. A process-oriented approach evaluates how time and covariates (including past events) affect the timing and sequence of repeatable events, and it attempts to explain how events unfold over time. The nonprocess approaches summarize static relationships between levels or characteristics of units and some type of event count.
Article
This paper examines the situational dynamics of the 2011 London Riots. The empirical contribution is to challenge the dominant explanation of the riots as an outbreak of ‘criminal opportunism’. I use the Metropolitan Police record of all riot-related crimes in London to test several hypotheses and show that this ‘criminal opportunism’ theory cannot account for the riots’ spatial patterning. This opens space for alternative explanatory mechanisms. I then use video footage and testimonies of events on the ground to examine the interactions which made up the London Riots. These suggest that the riots were, in part, a way for people to stake a claim to the public spaces in which they lived, to reclaim the everyday. Theoretically, this builds on Randall Collins’s ‘micro-situational’ approach to violence but extends it by embedding historical and structural factors into that micro-perspective. Specifically, the emotional dynamics of these riot interactions cannot be understood without acknowledging participants’ pre-existing expectations of the police and of the everyday places of the riot.
Chapter
Until Charles Tilly’s (2000) paper, virtually no one addressed the concept of space in protest and repression. The same can be said of time. Perhaps both subjects are too mundane. After all, it is obvious that space is a prerequisite in virtually any dissent event; and protest occurs in time. The fact that the protesters were forced out of Chicago’s Lincoln Park (as opposed to the more spatially advantaged Grant park) at 11:00 pm during the 1968 Democratic convention has always been a matter for journalists, not scholars. In this chapter I follow Tilly (2000) in trying to make space as well as time scholarly matters. We deal first with space, then time, and finally attempt to integrate both. Starting from first principles of attitudes of dissidents and the state, I attempt to link Mark Lichbach’s (1995, 1996) Collective Action research program (CARP) through the spatial dimension.
Chapter
What causes revolution? Historians and social scientists have alike put forward a myriad causes, but there is really only one: mobilization. Should a regime fall without mass mobilization, it is defined as a victim of a coup d’etat, usually by a military cabal. Mobilization – not revolution – then is the concept that foremost requires explanation. How is it that on one particular occasion, a gathering of one hundred people or even hundreds of thousands act against their government? From a theoretical point of view, this question is the same as asking why 30 workers act against their firm. The puzzle of mobilization focuses on why anyone acts at all. Most do not, as Mancur Olson (1965) pointed out. About few to 5% of the local population might act under risk, and exactly why they do so has remained mysterious.We have stories, anecdotes, and examples on mobilization, but until recently there was no theoretical explanation about how mobilization actually arises. Mark Lichbach (1995, 1996) spent the better part of a decade grappling with this problem. His work clarifies how dissident mobilization occurs. In this chapter, we examine the theoretical implications of his and other formal theorists’ work in terms of real-world mobilization.
Chapter
History is filled with the political turmoil created by groups engaging in collective actions in an attempt to bring about social change. In fact, the historical record is so teeming with such instances that it seems eminently reasonable to posit movements and conflict as rooted in the very nature of social order itself. To paraphrase Hobbes: “Society is the war of group against group.” Take for example an obscure group of workingmen involved in the burgeoning English textile industry in the early part of the nineteenth century. Under the leadership of an elusive figure known as Captain Ludd, they began tooling around the English countryside, wrecking the new steam spinning machines that were then being installed. Popularly known as “Luddites,” their actions gave rise to that quaint name used today as an epithet for those who would oppose technological progress. Their complaint was that the new machines were destroying their ability as Godfearing subjects of the king to make a livelihood. Or, to take a page from American experience, in 1900 a strong-willed woman by the name of Carrie Nation, convinced of her divine appointment, imprinted her name on American history by leading angry crowds of temperance supporters through the tenderloin district of several midwestern cities. Brandishing axes, the temperance advocates laid waste to any number of saloon doors and bars. Their complaint was that the public sale of drink was demoralizing the citizenry, causing men to desert their families and to be drawn into the web of crime. Or, to take another page from history, in the spring of 1905 a group of peasants in an obscure village located in central European Russia known as Virantino huddled together on the side of the road leading from their huts to the master’s chateau.
Article
Full-text available
The adequacy of a recently proposed explanation for the location of racial disorders during the 1960's is evaluated in this paper. Two approaches to evaluation are used: (1) The proportion of variation accounted for by the variables assumed to be related to the occurrence of disorders is compared with an estimate of the "maximum explanable proportion of variation," and (2) the structural equation derived from an analysis of the 1961-67 disorders is used to predict the locations of the 1968 disturbances. The conclusions from these investigations support the proposed explanation only with respect to the non-South, but indicate that the distribution of disorders among southern cities has been converging during the late 1960's to the pattern which has been prevalent in the non-South throughout this decade. This finding is interpreted as evidence of the decreasing importance of regional cultures as an intervening factor in the development of black solidarity.
Article
Full-text available
Explanations of civil disorder occurrence and participation have focused upon community and individual attributes and to a great extent have employed some variation of the deprivation-frustration-aggression (DFA) model. Spilerman's (1970) examination of community attributes concludes, "an explanation which identifies disorder-proneness as an attribute of the individual seems better able to account for (rioting)." Recent civil disorder research provides data relevant to this contention. An examination of the literature yielded 287 associations between five measures of participation and 24 categories of individual variables. Secondary analysis reveals that only 7% yield correlations of .30 or higher. Of the 173 associations bearing on the DFA explanation, only 8% yield correlations of .30 or higher. The variables in the moderate and high associations are critically examined. Independent variables have been static attributes and measures of participation have treated riot behavior as a monolithic phenomenon. An alternate focus for future studies is advocated which acknowledges variation in riot behavior and which focuses on interactional environments of individuals prior to and during civil disorders.
Article
Using unique sets of data from fifteen large American cities, this paper is an examination of some of the conditions under which objective circumstances surrounding city police and ghetto retail merchants are translated into the public issues of police brutality and exploitation by retailers. The findings of the investigation are based on the relations between three levels of community social organization within cities: city leaders, the general population, and the persons in occupations which in some sense link the two. Analysis of the data indicates that grass roots grievances with police and ghetto merchants have their foundations in the actual practices of these occupational groups. For the consumer to realize that merchants are engaging in unacceptable business prac tices, city leaders must publicly raise the issue of exploitation. Claims of police brutality appear to follow a more "populist" kind of model. Although elites certainly act to mold public opinion, the level of grievances with police and the salience of the public issue of police practices stems more directly from the experiences that citizens have with local law enforcement officers. The role of the police chief is thus seen as a crucial factor in public controversy about police practices.
Article
Controlling for variables implies conceptual distinctness between the control and zero-order variables. However, there are different levels of distinctness, some more subtle than others. These levels are determined by the theoretical context of the research. Failure to specify the theoretical context creates ambiguity as to the level of distinctness, and leads to the partialling fallacy, in which one controls for variables that are distinct in terms of appropriate theory. Although this can occur in using any control procedure, it is especially likely to occur in multiple regression, where high-order partial regression coefficients are routinely obtained in order to determine the relative importance of variables. Four major ways in which these regression coefficients can be seriously misleading are discussed. Although warnings concerning multicollinearity are to be found in statistics texts, they are insufficiently informative to prevent the mistakes described here. This is because the problem is essential...
Article
A NUMBER OF COMMON PRACTICES AND BELIEFS CONCERNING MULTIPLE REGRESSION ARE CRITICIZED, AND SEVERAL PARADOXICAL PROPERTIES OF THE METHOD ARE EMPHASIZED. MAJOR TOPICS DISCUSSED ARE THE BASIC FORMULAS, SUPPRESSOR VARIABLES, MEASURES OF THE IMPORTANCE OF A PREDICTOR VARIABLE, INFERRING RELATIVE REGRESSION WEIGHTS FROM RELATIVE VALIDITIES, ESTIMATES OF THE TRUE VALIDITY OF POPULATION REGRESSION EQUATIONS AND OF REGRESSION EQUATIONS DEVELOPED IN SAMPLES, AND STATISTICAL CRITERIA FOR SELECTING PREDICTOR VARIABLES. (50 REF.)
Article
The relationship between political trust, political efficacy and riot participation is analyzed in a survey of 237 black males in Newark, New Jersey. Self-reported riot participants are more likely to be found among the dissident-those high on political efficacy but low on political trust, rather than among the alienated-those who are both distrustful and ignorant of government. When compared to civil rights activists and voters, rioters are similar in their generally higher levels of political information but lower in trust of the government. Rioting appears to be a disorganized form of political protest rather than an act of personal frustration, or social isolation, as has been suggested in some past research.
Article
The immediate precipitants and underlying conditions of 76 race riots in the U.S. between 1913 and 1963 are examined, using journalistic accounts and census data. The precipitants tend to be highly charged violations of one racial group by the other--rape, murder, assault, and police brutality. Since many of these precipitants are normally dealt with by established community institutions and because the response is not restricted to the alleged aggressor, various underlying conditions must be present. Hypotheses derived from earlier case studies and texts on collective behavior are examined to determine why riots occur where they do rather than in other cities of comparable size and location. Occupational and municipal government characteristics influence the occurrence of riots; demographic and housing characteristics do not. Riots seem most likely to occur in communities where institutional malfunctioning, cross-pressures, or other inadequacies are such that the city is unable to resolve racial problems.