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An economic approach to riot analysis

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Summary

The popular view that a riot is a spontaneous release of hostility by the frustrated and oppressed masses was rejected in favor of a notion of riot based upon motivation for personal gain by riot participants. The main difference between a riot and other forms of illegal activity was said to be the presence of a large and possibly sympathetic crowd.

Since the ways of gaining from a riot are varied and differ among individuals, there are several ways to reduce the probability of riots. The particular method chosen by a riot analyst depends, to a large extent, on his personal biases. Two of these were discussed: (1) a desire for a redistribution of income in the direction of the rioting group, and (2) the maintenance of the constancy of deterrent power of laws in all situations. It was found that adoption of (1) leads to the advocacy of many of the riot-prevention techniques which are popularly discussed. The adoption of (2) supports the assignment of heavier penalties for criminal acts committed during riots.

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References

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Gunning, J.P. An economic approach to riot analysis. Public Choice 13, 31–46 (1972). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01718850

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Keywords

  • Public Finance
  • Illegal Activity
  • Economic Approach
  • Spontaneous Release
  • Personal Gain