December 15, 2005

An example of a tipping point

A good example of a ‘Tipping Point’ is the recent riots that occurred in france. Things started in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois. This deprived area of Paris has a high immigrant population. Residents of this area were becoming increasingly disgruntled with the French government, feeling ignored and disagreeing with changes in government policy. The initial small rioting that occurred in this suburb followed the death of two teens that were allegedly fleeing from the police. The rioters felt that this was avoidable and that the police were in the wrong. Four days after the death of these two youths, rioting spread out of Clichy-sous-Bois to three other suburbs of Paris. Rioting involved violence and the burning of cars. 5 days after the deaths, 177 cars had been burnt. The following day this number had increased to 400. Three days after this the rioting had spread to regions outside of Paris, in other large French cities, and now about 1500 cars had been burnt.

The French government, desperate to stub out the riots imposed curfews. Numerous other measures were put into place in the effort to stop the rioting. The riots raged on for three weeks before finally dissipating.

There are probably a number of reasons for this French rioting to spread from a single deprived Paris suburb, across the country within a couple weeks. The death of the two youths was the final blow that ignited rioting in a community that already felt dejected and ignored by the French government. Perhaps France’s incessant desire for a secular society had something to do with these communities to feel isolated. Perhaps things were also made worse by comments from French government officials. The attention of the French and world media was huge, and probably had something to do with the spread of violence. Maybe people in other deprived suburbs felt that this rioting was achieving some sort of purpose, drawing attention to their situation. Whatever the reasons, this violence and rioting was contagious, and was able to grow and develop in neighboring suburbs, then neighboring cities.

Posted by at December 15, 2005 11:22 AM