Thursday, August 18, 2011

England rioters: young, poor and unemployed

I am weary of pundits opining on the UK riots and assigning blame that invariably and neatly aligned with their pre-riot views of the world, when none of them had been anywhere near England, let alone the environment of the riots. This has come from the left (Thom Hartmann, for example) as well as the right (Ann Coulter), and of course David Cameron had his answers already typed up and waiting in a file cabinet. Among all of this there were scant few interviews with actual rioters talking about their motives.

But now The Guardian has some data that sheds some light on the subject:
They crunched some data on those convicted and found:

   * the majority of people who have appeared in court live in poor neighbourhoods, with 41% of suspects living in one of the top 10% of most deprived places in the country.
   * 66% of neighbourhoods where the accused live got poorer between 2007 and 2010.
   * in almost all of the worst-affected areas, youth unemployment and child poverty were significantly higher than the national average while education attainment was significantly lower.

These aren't really surprising, and it still doesn't mean these weren't mostly kids out breaking shit just for the hell of it. But even that kind of attitude comes from somewhere, and it seems to me very difficult for any pundit, or even journalist, to be able to identify with the rioters or what their lives are like. And unfortunately these are the people the media overlook everywhere until something like this happens. Their facile explanations are disturbing, and so I give the Guardian credit for trying to break through the barriers of understanding.

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