Aug. 9, 2011
London Riots Reflect Culminations of Multiple Tensions, Says Emory Political Scientist
More than 500 people have been arrested and dozens of others injured in ongoing London riots that started after the controversial shooting by police of a 29-year-old man. Emory University political science professor Thomas Lancaster says the rioting is, however, about much more than the one incident.
“My take on this violence is that several things are coming together at the same time,” says Lancaster, an expert in comparative politics and Europe.
“First, surveys have identified over the last decade or so a growing disengagement of the youth from traditional society. Second, rising and persistent long-term unemployment, most strongly felt amongst young people just entering the labor market, is a problem.”
Possibly also exacerbating the violence is the recent budget that was passed by the Conservative/Liberal Democratic coalition government that included very sharp budget cuts. This spawned more peaceful but equally widespread protests by university students earlier this year, he says.
“[It is] one of the strongest austerity budgets in the western democracies,” Lancaster says. “Such spending cuts are strongly affecting all of society, not just the youth.”