Does Welfare State Play a Role in Urban Unrest? Learning from Paris, London and Stockholm Riots

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Gilbert Scott Conference Room - 250 (University of Glasgow)
Chiara Lodi Rizzini , Observatory on Second Welfare, Luigi Einaudi Research Centre, Turin
Paris, 2005. London, 2011. Stockholm, 2013. Three different times, countries and social models, but the same dynamic: a man belonging to an ethnic minority is killed by the police. The accident triggers the explosion of riots, at first in the suburb and then around the city and the country.

The paper is intended to analyze the events from the perspective of social policy, focusing on three elements occurring in each of the reported episodes: A) the place, suburbs. Riots are geographically very circumscribed, thus showing the persistence of a centre-periphery cleavage; B) rioters’ age. Most of rioters are under 25, to the extent that according to some sociologists riots are first of all “a youth underclass uprising from destitute neighbourhoods”; C) high involvement of people from a minority, as a result of an incomplete integration process even in countries where immigration is already a long-standing phenomenon.

Trough the analysis of these three elements, it can be outlined rioters are a part of society who lives in a sort of “limbo”: they are not in work nor in education, not foreign nor citizens of the country where they live, at least they do not feel to be. The episodes suggest how the economical crisis is undermining social cohesion, widening the cleavages between the insiders and the outsiders of the society, centre and periphery, youth and not youth, migrants and old-residents. A dangerous outcome resulting in all the worlds of welfare (Esping-Andersen 1991): “social democratic” Sweden, “liberal” United Kingdom and “corporative” France.

  • Lodi Rizzini_CES 2017.pdf (485.4 kB)