Michalis Moutselos | Political Geography
Violent anti-state rioting has erupted in many neighborhoods in Western Europe over the last thirty years. Conventional explanations emphasize socioeconomic or ethno-racial grievances, the under-representation of immigrant minorities, or the effects of national integration models on state-minority relations. Much less attention has been paid to the particular characteristics of the neighborhoods in which anti-state rioting takes place. I argue that living in neighborhoods with large social-housing estates fuels grievances over territorial stigmatization, poor administration and heavy-handed policing. In addition, rioters hailing from such urban areas enjoy tactical advantages and employ territorially anchored networks and identities. Using an original municipal-level dataset from the 2005 wave of anti-state riots in France and controlling for competing explanations the paper provides evidence that the propensity and intensity of anti-state rioting are associated with the presence of large social-housing estates. Further supporting evidence for the hypothesized mechanisms is subsequently provided from the 2005 and previous rioting episodes in France.