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Riots have long been an area of interest for researchers but the study of this form of collective disorder has always proved challenging. Riots are fluid and highly volatile events, intense outbursts of emotionally charged violence that often seem devoid of any clear, underlying logic. The task is further complicated by the fact that every riot is unique in the sense that it arises from a particular combination of causal and contextual factors that may vary considerably from event to event. Classical thinking on riots (see From Classical to Contemporary Perspectives on Riots) was underpinned by notions of irrationality and criminality, but this trend was reversed over the course of the 20th century as rational approaches to understanding collective behavior gained momentum. Contemporary research, much of it empirical, has sought to adopt a holistic approach to the study of riots, combining an understanding of immediate crowd dynamics with the broader contextual factors surrounding riots.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Bibliographies in Urban Studies
EditorsRichard Dilworth
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020


  • Riots
  • Public Disorder


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