These are “consumer society riots”, says Dr Paul Bagguley, who is a sociologist at Leeds. This is very perceptive. It points clearly to the consumerist, acquisitive nature of the looting, and it hints that these are the kind of riots that a consumer society (and let’s not forget, that’s all of us) has. It hints that this is the kind of riot you expect from members of a consumer society, not from those who refuse to be part of it. That does not allow me to say the looters are totally alien or other, or even “enemies of society” in a straightforward way. The looters are committed to the consumer society. They’re “us”, not simply “them”.After all, the unspoken but powerful message of a consumer society is “the one with the most toys wins”, and possessing stuff is what someone is measured on rather than the way they acquire it. Further, the public face of acquiring wealth doesn’t stress that wealth should be acquired in socially responsible ways: think of the bonuses and pay-offs for bankers. They don’t look as though they’re sharing the pain of recession. As for honouring positions of trust, think of the MPs’ expenses scandal. The smartphones and trainers that a looter snatches aren’t in the same league financially as some of the MPs
This is perceptive indeed and relevant for Americans. The whole commentary is worthwhile.