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Politics, Consumption or Nihilism

Politics, Consumption or Nihilism

Politics, Consumption or Nihilism

Research centre
Communication and Computing Research Centre


Disorder and Protest, the UK and beyond

Since 2010 the world has witnessed the rise of some major political protest movements and revolts across the globe, including the Greek riots and the Arab spring. In the UK, August 2011 saw the most widespread and sustained disorder on English streets in living memory. In London alone (as of October 2011) this has led to approximately 3,000 arrests (London Evening Standard) and the cost of the riots are estimated at somewhere between £200-300 million (The Guardian). The aims of this conference was to explore both theoretically and empirically the political dynamics of recent protest events since 2010 while considering ways of understanding the mobilisations which go beyond popular narrative tropes. 

The conference featured keynote addresses from Prof Simon Hallsworth (University Campus Suffolk), Prof Nick Crossley (University of Manchester), and Prof Tim Hope (University of Salford), which explored the questions such as the appropriateness of the government's focus on 'problem families' in the aftermath of the UK riots of 2011, the ways in which Social Network Analysis can help us understand the political dynamics of protest groups (as in the 2010/2011 UK educational protests), and the lessons that can be learnt from public responses to earlier riots (such as Los Angeles 1992).

These keynote addresses helped frame a wider diversity of panels dealing with questions of protest and disorder in the UK, Europe and internationally. Individual papers focused on topics such as the mobilisation of the Greek far-right (Golden Dawn) in the context of the ongoing fiscal crisis), the fight by students in Quebec to oppose the marketisation of higher education, the politics of the Occupy movement in New York, the deployment of activist technologies linked to the UK educational protests, the heavy-handed police response to protests over the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2008, and a range of papers exploring the urban riots in the UK (some making comparisons to urban riots in other EU countries, others contrasted the events of 2011 to earlier rounds of rioting in the UK while some focused on the pressing methodological issues involved in collecting data on 'riots' and 'rioters'). The quality of papers, delivered by both established academics and doctoral students, was excellent and the organisers hope to continue the dialogue begun here in Sheffield through the publication of an edited collection.

You can view the PowerPoint presentations below:

Researchers involved

Professor Dave Waddington - Head of the Communication and Computing Research Centre (CCRC)

Dr Bob Jeffery - Lecturer in Sociology (Research Methods)

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