Working Paper: Political Attitudes and the British Riots

In the aftermath of the recent riots, a short paper by Sarah Birch, University of Essex, and Nicholas Allen, Royal Holloway, University of London, suggests that attitudes toward politics may have a significant impact on people’s willingness to engage in law breaking. The paper which is based on survey and focus-group data, systematically tests the various claims that have been advanced in the media about the causes of the riots. It suggests that whilst socio-economic deprivation and personal moral values have some part to play in any explanation, a lack of confidence in political leaders and disengagement from public affairs appears to make a significant minority of people potentially available for participation in rioting. The research, taken from Sarah Birch and Nicholas Allen's broader Ethics and Integrity project, funded by the ESRC and the British Academy, is presented in a working paper, '"There will be burning and a-looting tonight": The social and political correlates of law-breaking.'

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