Riots, Communities and Victms Panel- the report. The summer riots in England 2011.
Some of you will know that I was annoyed at the leaking of this report yesterday (27/03/12) and how this affected the reporting on the riots. (here) I didn’t want to comment until I had read the report. (Interestingly, in the Guardian article today, they did not provide a link to the full report .) That aside; what are we to make of this report?
In my original post on the riots: Explanations not excuses (posted 03/09/11) I asked that any inquiry look at the following:
the values that we promote through our press and the media in general,
an education system that promotes training above education for life not just employment.
the parts of England where there weren’t any riots and what they are doing RIGHT.
where those convicted have come from, check the deprivation levels and the gcse results
By and large, the report addresses all of these issues and the results are of no surprise. The report identifies a significant underclass of children and young people who have no stake in society, are poorly educated and materially driven. In this report, these people are described as the ” forgotten Families” “bumping along the bottom of society.” The lumpen proletariat then, or the underclass. Or as they are derogatively known, the Chavs.
Much of the media discussion of this part of the report has revolved around whether the creation of this underclass is to be blamed on poor parenting or on society. I would argue that poor parenting is a result of a poor society.
The report briefly mentions social capital and I was particularly looking forward to a comparison between similar communities where riots took place and where they did not. Unfortunately the report provides little comparison and only by way of an anecdote. Lozels is quoted as an area where you might expect riots to have take place but did not occur yet there is no statistical evidence of comparative levels of financial deprivation.I wanted to know this because I don’t believe that deprivation is purely financial. There is an issue of social capital and we need to find a way of growing social capital . “Building character” as the report states….
But… that is already what we try and do in schools. It is not measured though, so it is not valued. None of the report’s recommendations on young people are not already covered by the Every child matters agenda. Oh, it has been archived.
And the report also suggests that these same schools should be teaching what we used to call emotional literacy (much maligned) yet schools should also be held financially accountable for low levels of literacy and numeracy…..
What this report has shown is that there is a significant proportion of our society who have no stake in the same said society. I would argue that this underclass- chavs or the forgotten families- are very distinct from the working classes- often the victim of the riots. The values expressed by this underclass are not dissimilar to the values shown by our bankers and politicians….What we need is a revaluation of what our society values are. Perhaps this is the job of philosophers……..
Next post: 2/3 of children involved in riots have Special Educational Needs.