Ropological And Psychological Categories In Explaining Riots Essay

Ropological And Psychological Categories In Explaining Riots Essay

E. P. Thompson and Powell are two historians who prioritize broader anthropological and psychological categories in their historical approaches to explaining riots. Although they utilize similar categories, they have opposing views within those categories.

Thompson describes how a small community consensus on morality that is contrary to larger societal morality is the true cause of riots. The main theme of his moral economy description is that people don’t just become animal like and lose sight of their internal moral compass. They know what they think is right and they have support and alignment from a community of their peers. This alignment and agreement is what gives them the belief that they are fighting for what is right, not being animal-like and violent with no level of conscious awareness. In contrast, another historian Powell thinks that violent riots come from intense individualization, not communities and the support of others. He argues that riots result from individuals losing their connection with society and slowly becoming isolated. Ropological And Psychological Categories In Explaining Riots Essay

Powell terms this ‘Anomie’ which is when an individual does not have a clear purpose in mind or a vision of how things should be and they completely lose touch with their sense of morality. E. P Thompson would view the Jacquerie as peasants revolting in effort to pursue a more just society that aligns with their agreed upon morals while powell would discuss how the peasants became disconnected from society and lost touch with conscious awareness of what is right and what is wrong. The Jacquerie, a peasant revolt, had incendiary events that preceded the violence. The feudal structures in France at the time were widely disliked. Peasants thought the nobles of France were oppressing them instead of protecting them. The upper class was constantly raising the taxes that the peasants had to pay and forcing them to repair properties that had been damaged in war without compensation. Ropological And Psychological Categories In Explaining Riots Essay


Thompson would argue that the peasants shared a moral idea that the nobles and people of the upper class of France should protect them and not be able to abuse them. As a peasant community, they saw this as unjust and did not want to participate in a society that was run this way any longer. With a shared moral code, a clear purpose, and a vision of a better life of protection and proper grain distribution for all, they acted violently on what they believed was right. Powell however might point out that the peasants were described as animal-like, leaderless, and uneducated. He could point out from Jean Le Bel’s recount of the event that there has never been such uncontrolled diabolical madness” and conclude that this unconscious behavior with no leader and no goal resulted from uneducated people who were unclear on what they wanted but simply lost touch with their sense of morality and became very violent without other reason. These two groups touch on morality of the group and individual respectively, but neglect to discuss the economic issues that contribute to these actions, and the political shifts that caused those economic issues. Ropological And Psychological Categories In Explaining Riots Essay

Thompson and Powell’s categorization of riot instigators would be a very narrow view if applied to the Tulsa race riots. Thompson would point out the congregation of blacks and whites to their respective communities. He would discuss how the authorities and whites saw it was fit, with respect to the morals of themselves and their white community, to implement Jim Crowe laws and treat blacks like second class citizens. The black community would rally together around their morality, based in the reasoning that many of them were veterans and as such they should be treated like a full citizen. They had a purpose and a motive and a direction of morality they were willing to be violent to make a reality. From Powell’s view, as whites and blacks created more space between their communities, and the tension of capitalism caused further individualization and loss of communal connection through job competition and inflation, blacks and whites were losing their sense of what is right and wrong and thus become violent. These viewpoints can be considered relevant, but are reductionist in their neglect of the whole slew of political and economic issues that the community was facing. Post WWI there were a lot of returning veterans and no plan to reintegrate them into society. The result was a job shortage in the Midwest and north, and a lot of inflation which caused economic turmoil. African americans had taken up many of the jobs previously held by whites. Ropological And Psychological Categories In Explaining Riots Essay

Many whites blame blacks for the violence and tension during this competition for jobs. There were lots of racial tensions that stemmed from economic unrest. Neither Thompson nor Powell’s views really dives deeply into the racial issues or the cultural anxiety between the two groups. Thompson and Powell both categorize riots through a psychological and anthropological categorization. Although their viewpoints can be supported by events in the Jacquerie and the Tulsa Race Riots, their views are ultimately reductionist and neglect some of the other complexities of riots and violent human behavior. Ropological And Psychological Categories In Explaining Riots Essay

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