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Riots, restraint and the new cultural politics of wanting

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
Article number7
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>29/11/2013
<mark>Journal</mark>Sociological Research Online
Issue number4
Volume18
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

In the aftermath of the 2011 English riots, many political elites, journalists and public commentators obscured the material, sociological and economic factors which contributed to the unrest and instead connected the riots to a problematic kind of 'wanting' – wanting the wrong kinds of things, in a manner and degree that was constructed as illegitimate and vulgar in a time of austerity – and thus constructing the riots as a problem of excessive greed, rampant materialism and social decay. This article reflects upon how the riots played a key role in the political production of a new cultural politics of wanting, whereby wanting is made problematic, suspect, a sign of material fixation and of irresponsible consumerism. It reflects upon this cultural politics within the current austerity regime which manifests through a celebration and romanticisation of post-War restraint and re-animation of thrift practices and frugal living.