A number of academic studies have sought to comparatively analyze the French riots of 2005 with those that occurred in England in 2011, yet these have been limited in their scope and depth. In this article, we set out a more comprehensive analysis of the causes and underlying meaning of these episodes of collective disorder through a systematic application of the Flashpoints Model of Public Disorder to each case. The argument identifies and considers points of overlap and tension between the various causal factors underpinning the respective riots, engaging with both the background causes (long- and short-term) and the ‘triggering’ event that prompted a latent potential for violence to become manifest as rioting. In addition to providing an analytical framework for the comparative study of these important episodes of rioting, the article constitutes a response to recent criticisms regarding the explanatory scope of the flashpoints model and demonstrates the continued relevance of the model as a robust conceptual framework within which the anatomy of collective disorder can be dissected and understood.

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