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Recent Riots in the United Kingdom and France

Causes and Commonalities

Matthew Moran and David Waddington

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.

Open access

"The Riots Were Where the Police Were

Deconstructing the Pendelton Riot

Bob Jeffery and Waqas Tufail

This article explores the social dynamics in the city of Salford at the time of the Pendleton riot, which took place amidst the four days of national rioting that began with the killing of Mark Duggan in Tottenham by the Metropolitan Police Service. Attempting to counter what we see as a dominant narrative of the riots as 'shopping with violence', this article explores the development of the significant disorder in Salford through a triangulation of accounts, including an extensive review of journalistic accounts, alongside interviews from a dozen people who witnessed the riots as police officers, residents and spectators. Beginning with an overview of the events of August 9th 2011, we argue that the deployment of officers in riots gear in the vicinity of Salford Precinct proved provocative, and created a focal point for the widespread antagonism felt towards the police. Furthermore, we suggest that an understanding of local contextual factors is critical both in terms of answering the question ‘why Salford?’, but also in terms of explaining the ferocity of the violence targeted towards officers of Greater Manchester Police (in contrast to the focus on looting in nearby Manchester city-centre). Interpreting the riots as a response to punitive policing policies that have accompanied state-directed policies of large-scale gentrification, we highlight the degree to which the 'contestations over space' that characterized the riot pointed to an underlying politics of resistance (despite lacking 'formal' political articulation).

Open access

Simulating Events as They Happen

Spectacle, Ideology, and Readymade Boogeymen—The 2011 August Riots and the Media

Christian Garland

The 2011 August riots that combusted with the police shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, North London, (Laville, 2011; Vasagar, 2011) spread literally like wildfire to cities and towns across England in the space of a matter of hours. At the time, much was written about the supposedly ‘nihilistic’ and ‘opportunistic’ nature of the events, and how, unlike previous urban rebellions, they could not be considered to have any ‘political’ dimension, although there were some notable exceptions to such blanket dismissals, which were offered en bloc from even ‘radical’ quarters, not say media and academic ones. The article seeks to offer an analysis and critique of the media narrative of the events in English cities that August, with the aim of contributing to their demystification and better understanding, more than three years on. The article is written from a Marxist perspective, heavily drawing on Critical Theory and using content analysis and an ideological critique of the media to develop its argument. In the three years since the riots of 2011, the production of literature on those events has been fairly continuous, but largely oblivious to their significance, or just why they received such blanket and unequivocal condemnation. This article, in keeping with its origins as one of ‘the notable exceptions’ at the time makes an interrogative critique of the media’s part in ‘simulating events as they happen’.

Open access

Violence, Global Unrest and Advanced Capitalism

(And Why Wile E. Coyote Never Catches Roadrunner)

Daniel Briggs

Over the last five years or so, we have witnessed increasing forms of violence and unrest across the world. In the media, these depictions are presented as actions of resistance to oppressive regimes and corrupt politics, yet are, at the same time, deliberately detached from a global politik which is collapsing in numerous ways: the manifestations evident in market instability, and increasing austerity, unemployment and social inequality; a sign perhaps that the orgy of globalisation is reaching its climax. Some of all this was reflected in what we saw across English cities during the summer of 2011 and in this article, I discuss these riots and why they might have happened and the State response. Perhaps more importantly, I show how they should be reconsidered alongside other forms of violence and dissatisfaction against oppressive regimes and corrupt politics as a collective response to a global system on the brink of collapse as a result of its never-ending pursuit of rampant profit at the expense of millions of people. I relate this fruitless quest of profit to Wile E. Coyote’s incessant pursuit of Roadrunner.

Open access

The Abortion Referendum in Portugal

The Influence of Psychosocial Variables in the Voting Intentions and Behavior of Portuguese Youth

Ana Figueiredo and Jorge Silva

February 11th 2007 set the date for what would be an intense and passionate discussion on a gendered health related issue in Portugal: abortion. In the referendum, approximately 44% of the eligible population voted, and from these 59% voted for the legalization of abortion in Portugal. Hence, this referendum brought about changes in the Portuguese law, which now allows legal abortion to occur at the desire of the woman until the 10th week of pregnancy. The present research consists of a study in which 205 university students fully responded to 4 data collection sessions between November 2006 and March 2007. The goal of the study was to understand the most relevant psychosocial variables when trying to explain the voting intentions and voting behavior of Portuguese youth. The variables in the present study included participants’ gender, political orientation, religious affiliation and practice, sexual attitudes and attitudes towards abortion. Our results show that all of the above variables, except for gender, are relevant for the opinion formation about this topic. Approximately 94% of our participants reported they had the intention to vote, although only 64% of these actually voted on the day of the referendum. Finally, we found that participants rely mostly on the strength of their attitudes towards abortion in relation to their voting intention, while relying mostly on the strength of their normative religious beliefs in relation to their voting behavior. Implications of our results for understanding the politics of abortion legislation are discussed.

Open access

Adrogynous Punk as Postfeminist Signifying Strategy of Transgression within Subcultures

Punk Aesthetic as Gender De(con)struction in the Trilogy Film Series "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Sheila Malone

This article investigates contemporary representations of androgyny and the strategic possibilities of punk-androgyny within a postfeminist imaginary. In looking at the characters Lisbeth in the Swedish film trilogy The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo and Kino in the Japanese anime series Kino's Journey, I am interested in connecting the metonymy of punk dress to representations of transgressions of gender norms. My investigation looks at the concept that gender is “unread” through androgyny which manifests as visual signifiers that make up the punk metonymy. The subjects (characters Lisbeth and Kino) erase the signifier of gender, through punk-androgyny, in order to reclaim power and identity within a (masculinized) subculture and mainstream society. Androgyny is not the desire to be the opposite sex as in a transgender subjectivity. Instead, androgyny is a strategy of aesthetics that transgresses the normative structure of language and signifiers that refer girls and women as less than or as Other through the normative codes of feminizing. In addition to arguing that punk metonymy erases explicit or readable/normative gender signs, I analyze how the motorcycle is situated as an extension of the body. The use of motorcycling propels the literal and figurative androgynous bodies through space in overt transgressive actions against the establishment; it provides agency, motility and ultimately new subject positions for the female protagonists. Through a critical analysis drawing from cultural and post-feminist theory and through the examination of specific scenes, this article aims to investigate punk aesthetic as a post-feminist strategy.

Open access

Blogging the Resistance

Testimony and Solidarity in Egyptian Women's Blogs

Sophia Brown

Much has been written about the role the internet played during the Arab uprisings of 2011, with particular attention paid to social media, whether Facebook, Twitter or blogging, and the extent to which it contributed to organizing the mass protests. Another recurring theme of the analysis of the uprisings was the role played by women, with Western media in particular emphasizing their contributions and debating whether this marked a pronounced increase in women’s agency. My article seeks to respond to these issues through an analysis of two Egyptian women’s blogs. Instead of contributing to the well-known debate about the internet’s capabilities for facilitating action, I examine how blogs observe resistance, exploring this through notions of digital testimony and autobiography. I then consider the issue of solidarity and whether this is gendered, which is an important issue to consider in light of the focus placed on women’s roles during the protests. Ultimately I aim to demonstrate that these Egyptian women’s blogs offer us new and productive ways of thinking about the role the internet played during the Arab uprisings and the autobiographical act, leading us to acknowledge the complexities of both solidarity and articulations of selfhood.

Open access

Feminist Perspectives Across the Board

Barbara Franchi and Natália da Silva Perez

The f-word used to be inappropriate for polite company, but today nobody seems afraid to say it, loud and proud. Hollywood stars and world-famous pop singers can openly claim to be feminists; it is now acceptable for mainstream celebrities to emulate that which more radical independent feminist artists have been doing for the past few decades. This gradual mainstreaming of feminism, facilitated in part by easier and wider access to communication technology, is reflected all over mass media. The last couple of years have also seen a number of high-profile female celebrities engaging in feminist political action. When Angelina Jolie and Emma Watson are UN ambassadors in projects that aim to promote the emancipation of women worldwide, when pop singer Beyoncé openly declares that “we have a way to go [to achieve equality] and it’s something that’s pushed aside and something that we have been conditioned to accept,” (Vena, 2013) their voices are heard by a wider audience, one that might not have been reached by the voices of activists and scholars who have for decades denounced the problems caused by gender discrimination.

Open access

A Labial Art-Politics

Hollie MacKenzie and Iain MacKanzie

In this article we focus on the potential for an alignment of certain feminist artistic practices and poststructuralist conceptions of critique that may enable ways of theorizing practices of resistance and engender ways of practicing resistance in theory, without the lurch back into masculinist forms of dogmatism. It will be claimed that an ontological conception of art, considered as that which makes a difference in the world, can not only challenge the primacy of the dogmatic and masculine ‘subject who judges’, but also instill ways of thinking about, and ways of enacting, feminist artistic encounters with the capacity to resist dogmatism. The theoretical stakes of this claim are elaborated through complimentary readings of Deleuze and Guattari’s constructivist account of philosophy and Irigaray’s feminist explorations of what it means to think from within the 'labial', rather than from the position of the dominant phallic symbolic order. We argue that this creative conjunction between Irigaray, Deleuze, and Guattari provides the resources for a conceptualisation of both feminist artistic practice and the critical practice of poststructuralist philosophy as forms of resistance to the dominant patriarchal order, in ways that can avoid the collapse back into masculinist forms of dogmatism. Revel’s discussion of the role of constituent rather than constituted forms of resistance is employed to draw out the implications of this position for contentious politics. It is concluded that constituent practices of resistance can be understood as a challenge to the phallogocentric symbolic order to the extent that they are practices of a labial art-politics.

Open access

A Review of "Femininity, Time and Feminist Art

Barbara Franchi

The role of women in making art and the agency of the overly-represented female body in artistic practices have been crucial debates in twentieth-century Western feminism and beyond. In particular, it was in the wake of the second wave of feminism, with the emergence of poststructuralism and deconstruction, and the postmodern turn that critical assessments of the arts started claiming back female spaces and voices in the midst of a still largely patriarchal artistic scene.