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By Paul Bagguley and Yasmin Hussain

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The local ethnic minority populations were politically excluded, so that they lacked the opportunities and resources to adequately represent their grievances. Consequently, many political decisions were imposed from above by local government, central government or their agencies. Finally, there was widespread hostility towards and lack of trust in the local police, especially among young ethnic minority people (Benyon, 1987: 33–5). Rather like Lea and Young this is little more than a list of characteristics of particular localities.

It is then followed by a ‘milling process’ which intensifies the attention of the crowd. The outcome of these processes is the emergent norm, the new definition of the situation. However, they emphasize that not everyone will go along with this definition. The collective expression of an emergent norm occurs in response to a keynoting action by someone in the crowd. There is some gesture or statement that captures the crowd’s attention which embodies the definition of the situation. At this point uncertainty is put aside and the crowd accepts and acts in line with the newly defined emergent norm (Turner and Killian, 1987: 52–60).

The pre-existence of groups within the crowd before it develops is noted, but this is often simply in terms of ‘ordinary crowd members’ versus ‘the radicals’. In response to police actions, the ordinary members become radicalized, and the crowd comes to have a cohesive collective identity. This switch from personal to social identity is a problem common to the wider social identity paradigm in social psychology, as noted by Huddy (2001). She argues that this counterposing of personal to social identity is at odds with the evidence, where people adopt social identities to varying degrees between a strong group identity and their unique persona.

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