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The language of the unheard: Social media and riot subculture/s

Rice, Louis


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Louis Rice
Associate Professor in Architecture


. The Subcultures Network


This chapter examines the relationships between social media, subculture identity and riots. In 2011 riots in Bristol (UK) attracted global media coverage. These riots were one of the first in the UK where social media played a significant role. Social media was used during the riot to disseminate information about when and where riots were taking pace and how the events were developing. The emergence of a ‘riot subculture’ that uses social media has become an easy target for politicians looking for causes of riots. This research does not find evidence for social media as a tool for the instigation of riots. Instead the research points to the more complex inter-relationship between social media and riot subcultures. Social media provides an alternative unofficial record of history as it unfolds; this alternative is no more accurate or unbiased than the official version, but provides an important counterpoint to the formal record. Social media has facilitated a production of knowledge that reflects the views of riot subculture that is often allied with a rejection of mainstream media and a looser alliance with a subversive ideology. The battle for power is the real riot; this power struggle is manifest most obviously in the violent actions in the streets, but equally the challenging of existing power relations occurs through social media.


Rice, L. (2017). The language of the unheard: Social media and riot subculture/s. In .. The Subcultures Network (Ed.), Youth Culture and Social Change: Making a Difference by Making a Noise (47-77). London: Palgrave Macmillan

Publication Date Sep 30, 2017
Deposit Date Dec 5, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 1, 2020
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 47-77
Series Title History of Subcultures and Popular Music
Book Title Youth Culture and Social Change: Making a Difference by Making a Noise
ISBN 9781137529107
Keywords riot, subculture, social media, knowledge production, urbanism
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