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A Grievance Most Just?

Collective Violence in Yorkshire, North of England

Wood Graham

Publications of the Faculty of Social Sciences 48 (2017) Political History The research focus is a specific case study analysis of collective violence in the North of England, in particular West and South Yorkshire. There are three cases: the Bradford Riots June 9-11th, 1995, The ‘Battle of Orgreave,’ June 18th, 1984 and a violent encounter between Leeds United and Manchester United fans at Elland Road on October 11th, 1975. The cases are set within the dynamic of violence mutation revealed in both their specific genres and in the fusion of violence that draws together the cases and manifestations of violence in the region throughout the period covered. The unique challenges of violence research are addressed and a triangulation methodology was employed drawing upon extensive newspaper sources, official reports, secondary sources and a limited sample of supporting interviews to garner an insight into the events. Fundamental problems of definition were broached, highlighting the difficulties of undertaking a multidisciplinary study of violence. This was compounded by different disciplines seeing the phenomenon through their own restrictive lens, resulting in divergent and contradictory conceptualisations of violence. This necessitated the formulation of a conceptual framework – violent conflictual contention, to obviate some of the weaknesses in violence definition. Inculcated within the framework were thematic strands of grievance and identity formation set within the contentious repertoire of non-institutional actors leading up to and emanating from the cases themselves. Primary attention was devoted on the non-institutional actors, although recognition was made of the role played by the police in all the cases. Yet irrespective of the level of social control employed by the police, and all three cases exhibited differing crowd control strategies, they nonetheless could not prevent the outbreak of violence and may have in fact have inadvertently exacerbated an increased recourse to violence. A grievance framework was proposed in which suddenly imposed grievances were identified in the unfolding events and reference was made to grievances of illegitimate inequality and violated principles that may have been key causal factors or factors that perpetuated the continuation of the violence. Grievance factors were juxtaposed with identity considerations that highlighted the fragility and transitory nature of identity formation. As the research developed it became evident that those confronting the non-institutional actors in the cases were derived not from some external ‘other’ but were in part sourced from their own fractured communities. Compounding the volatility of grievance and identity formation was a realisation of violence that transformed in both time and space and effectively negated any essentialist approach to the study of violence, thereby compromising the concept of violent conflictual contention. The actors involved could only access a limited and at times vicarious contentious repertoire, so their invocation of violence reflected an instrumentality and a self-belief in the virtuosity of their use of violence at specific points in time. Placed within their historical pathways, the cases moved from the 1970’s, through the 1980’s and 1990’s and finally into the twenty-first century. Demarcated in their own clearly defined temporal context, the cases demonstrated significant levels of soft violence. When transfused into a totality that merged the cases together into a landscape of violence, then the region was witness to significant and perpetual levels of violence during this period. This has resulted in a Yorkshire particularism fraught with contradiction and a resort to violence that has found refuge in the different communities.

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  • Julkaisija Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta (Helsingin yliopisto)
    Julkaisuvuosi 2017
    Sivumäärä 437
    Kieli Englanti
    Sarjat Valtiotieteellisen tiedekunnan julkaisuja
    Ulkoasu B5,pehmeäkantinen
    ISBN 9789515126016
    ISSN 2343-273X