CH.3 COLLECTIVE VIOLENCE: RIOTS
WHAT IS A RIOT?
Traditional or conservative stereotype: it tends to be held by the man and woman on
the street. It is a violent, large scale disorder, usually illegitimate, irrational,
uncontrolled, and highly emotional nature. it is called mad dog or riffraff stereotype
of the rioter.
Second stereotype is held by radicals and conflict-oriented sociologists and social
critics; it is that riots are, by their very nature, political- a protest against injustice,
oppression and exploitation. Its called the noble protester stereotype of the rioter.
Riots: The Reality
It varies, it can be spontaneous, organized, purposive or not, etc.
Intrinsically, riots stand at no particular place along the ideological or political
All individuals who take part in a specific riot do not have the same motive when they
act; in fact, an individual rarely engages in a single action for one motive alone
Some riots we can refer to a dominant modal or most common motive, but very
rarely do all the people who take part in a given action engage in it for the same
Defining a Riot
Relatively spontaneous group violence. Many riots support traditionalnorms.
3 criteria that refine a riot. 1. Some level of violence and destruction, even fi what is
destroyed is property and not human life. 2. It must be action of a fairly sizable grp of
ppl and not jst few individual. 3. Fairly spontaneous and unplanned, although some
can be instigated
Demonstrations vs. Riots
Two imprnt distinctions btwn them. 1. Demonstrations d not necessarily include
element of violence and destruction while riots always so. If there’s no violence, what
a crowd does cannot be called a riot. If violence does break out, it is no longer simply
a demonstration but a riot as well, a violent demonstration but a riot to be sure
2. Demonstrations are almost always planned, almost always held as the result of a
decision made by members of an organization, almost always hierarchically
coordinated by leaders and almost always designed to achieve a specific end. Riots are spontaneous, not directly led by anyone bu indirectly led through initiators or
The Monolithic Conception of Riots
It is the conception that riots are phenomenon with clear cut, recognizable features
whose reality all observers will agree upon.
Riot is a conception and label, not a concrete reality. Some people call it a
disturbance, disorder, outburst, etc.
Everyone present at the event is not engaged in violent behavior, some are watching,
encouraging rioters, restraining them, attacking or restraining police, protecting their
own property, etc.
Rarity of Riots
Collective violence is extremely rare
TYPES OF RIOTS
Purposive Riots: a substantial proportion of participants have a specific goal in mind
when they engage in destructive act. Ex: disrupt labor process in order to achieve
higher wages or better working conditions. Collective violence is a form of protest
Symbolic Riots: action isn’t intended to achieve a specific goal but directly or
indirectly, protests conditions or circumstances or gives voice to a particular view or
group. They represent a displacement of anger onto an accessible target
Revelous Riots: it is one where rioters engage in violence as a kind of celebration that
has gotten out of control; for many individuals and groups, there is an intimate
connection between celebration and violence
Issueless Riots: it entails an outburst of violence with no clear or dominant motive,
goal, or direction. motives of participants are so individualistic or mixed that ideology
and politics take a backseat in determining the action.
EXPLAINING COLLECTIVE VIOLENCE
Collective violence occurs because social order is disintegrating because society’s
social fabric is unraveling
Easier to analyze why rioting broke out after the fact than before it does
CV doesn’t determine riots so much as they facilitate them
There are potentiating factors for their occurance Riots are related to social and individual factors. 1. Who riots- looks at individual
rather than society or social context of the individual 2. Social conditions that
influence collective violence
4 types of different individual variables or factors relevant to the likelihood of
engaging in rioting behavior.
1. Factors that relate to being available for engaging in rioting
2. Those that are related to engaging in unconventional behavior
3. Attitudes and beliefs that are directly relevant to the issue that the riot addresses
4. Relate to socioeconomic status like education and employment vs.
The Social Behavioral/Interactionist Approach
SBI approach emphasizes availability factor in engaging in colle