Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Windle, James
North South Criminology Conference
The seduction of rioting: revisiting the 1991 Blackbird Leys riot
Cork, Ireland
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields
In 1991, a riot in Oxfords Blackbird Leys housing estate was documented in Campbell’s (1993) Goliath: Britain’s Dangerous Places. Campbell identified the rioters as belonging to an ‘underclass’ (p.29) of ‘marginal young men’ (p.34): excluded from education and work, and coming from single parent families. Similar narratives have dominated political and media discourse of subsequent riots, including the 2011 London riots (see Newburn 2011). In this paper I will draw from my own (admittedly unsystematic) experience of the riots and the rioters, as friends and colleagues, to argue that, contrary to Campbell, the rioters were not all ‘underclass’ youths but rather represented a cross-section of Blackbird Leys and surrounding estates: an argument echoing findings from Lewis and colleagues (2011) research into the 2011 London riots. Many of those who rioted came from stable (nuclear) families, maintained long-term stable relationships as adults, found and retained employment, and have no criminal record. The paper will conclude by discussing some alternative explanations for why these young people rioted.