The recent riots have quite correctly occasioned an outpouring of emotion, debate and commentary. Much of it now is focussed on the question of what “caused” the riots to happen with debate raging and all sides using the situation to back up and trumpet their own pre-existing beliefs.
There has sadly been a tremendous amount of premature analysis and faulty conclusions and there is evidently significant confusion over some basic features of this type of event in respect to identification of causes.
The riots were clearly a complex event and any explanation attempting to identify single headline “causes” (or clusters of related causes) will be inherently flawed (this goes for left wing analysis, right wing analysis and everywhere in between). Complex events like this have myriad influencing factors that will include background contextual factors and immediate triggers and fuel for the fire.
Complex events are non-linear and include amongst others, factors that are societal, organisational, individual, environmental, and perception based that all will have contributed in different ways, in different locations, for different people in the past weeks riots. It is further already clear that the rioters are not confined to one particular demographic and this further complicates the web of influencing factors.
So, there will be no “truth” to be found, no “cause” to be identified, and no single “solution” to magically resolve the problems and ensure it never happens again. It is essential that we take a more nuanced view of what has happened, and consequently of what to do now.
The following visual gives a range of the factors that conceivably influenced the riots (click to enlarge).
This is not a complete list by any means, but aims at highlighting the complexity of analysis that will be needed if we are to make any kind of sense from this situation. It is time for us to show collective maturity and approach this situation with the rigour and understanding that it clearly warrants. The solutions to the problems will be varied and need to reflect the complexity of the problems themselves.
We are all responsible for the part we have played in creating the communities we live in. We will all be responsible for how we chose to approach the problems we face.