The events of the August 2011 riots evoked responses from the public,
politicians, researchers, the media and members of academia, and tended to
focus on explaining the events. Within political rhetoric and media accounts,
issues such as poor parenting were raised in relation to the riots, and the
behaviour of young people. Subsequently, the ‘Troubled Families Programme’
(TFp) was introduced towards the end of 2011, which included a payment-byresults
system to address the issues associated with this pre-defined group.
Amidst the riots and the ensuing introduction of the TFp, there appeared to be an
absence of consultation with families.
The presented study aimed to consult parents and families through exploring how
they constructed the 2011 London riots. Five semi-structured interviews were
conducted with parents and families together. Participants included nine parents,
aged between 26 and 56 years and three young people, aged between 13 and 20
years from a range of ethnic backgrounds and occupations, and from three
different London boroughs.
A social constructionist stance was adopted and the study was informed by
narrative therapy ideas, within systemic theory. A Foucauldian-informed thematic
analysis identified five main themes: inequality and exclusion, rioting as a criminal
threat, youth as problematic, parenting, the family and morality, and reclaiming
normality. These themes highlighted the relevance of socio-political factors,
parent-blaming and contradictory constructions of youth as well as community
resources, to parent and family constructions of the 2011 London riots. The
analysis indicated implications for clinical psychology formulation with parents,
families and young people. It also suggested a role for community psychology
across London boroughs and ideas for informing contingency plans following
riots, as well as the commissioning of resources within local authorities.